Towns scale back festivities after winter carnivals take a hit

By Taylor McClure – Special to Brome County News

Every year, municipalities across the Eastern Townships organize their annual winter festivals and carnivals, also referred to as Plaisirs d’hiver, offering families a few fun-filled days with different winter activities. While some municipalities have managed to organize an activity or two, including Cowansville, which organized tubing for its residents behind Massey-Vanier High School at the beginning of Feb., the much-anticipated winter carnivals have taken a hit due to the pandemic.

“Right now, we have the sculpture activity. Before we had hot dogs, coffee and hot chocolate, but this year with Covid we don’t know yet what we are going to do. It makes it hard to do everyone wants to do,” said François Cusson, volunteer for the Commission loisirs et vie communautaire Abercorn.

With the association made up primarily of older volunteers, organizers are exercising caution. “Some are scared of Covid and they don’t want to be close to other people,” Cusson added.

The sculpture activity, in its fifth year, is a favorite in Abercorn, and Cusson said he is expecting between 30-35 participants this year. “It takes really a big spot in our park and we are expecting the snow to be on our side to have at least close to 30 or even more. This is our goal for this year and there are already people from last year calling to ask for a spot.”

The sculpture activity will take place on Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Thomas Shepard Park where they will be judged for a chance to win a $100 (first place), $50 (second place), and $25 (third place) prize. “We have strangers do our judging and no one knows who they are. They could even ask questions and take pictures,” noted Cusson.

Registration for the activity can be made at or by calling 450-538-2664. Deci-sions about other activities are expected to be made on Feb. 14 and to be announced on the Di-recteur Abercorn Facebook page.

The Town of Brome Lake is taking on a similar imitative with its own Snow Castle Challenge, but it has decided to scrap all other activities, including its Polar Festival.

“We said that we would wait to see how everything went, but it wasn’t going that great as you know,” said Mayor Richard Burcombe. “We waited and waited, it takes a lot of planning, and of course January came and then finally at the end of January, we said there was no way we could get anything going.”

The town was able to organize an online Snow Castle Challenge however. “People take pictures of it, send it in, and that finishes around the second week of March and they can win prizes,” noted Burcombe.

Registration to take part in the challenge can be made at by selecting IN-SCRIPTION and CHÂTEAU or by sending your photos and contact information to The registration date is before March 14.

For the entire month of February, the Town of Waterloo is organizing a different activity every Saturday, but it too has scrapped its winter carnival. “Generally they are winter activities, but we enhance them a little bit. We have skating, sliding, hockey. Last Saturday (Feb. 5) we had music outside with fires and marshmallows,” said Jessica Lamarche, coordinator for the Loisirs in Water-loo. “We enhance them a little bit, but we aren’t doing a large carnival with the sanitary measures. We preferred to do small activities on the weekend.”

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