On Sunday, July 11, Saskatchewan residents were granted the first opportunity to drop their masks, take a deep breath of unfiltered air and free their ears from tugging straps as the province lifted restrictions on the option of wearing masks in public settings.
On that very day, for those in the Duck Mountain Provincial Park area, there was an additional opportunity to go “mask-less” during a Sask Parks sponsored community event rich in activities, a variety of food trucks and live music. Festival in the Forest, as the event was called, attracted over 1,800 guests to the park throughout the day, according to Sask Parks Program Coordinator, Abby Chicoine.
“With the restrictions lifted, we really wanted to kick off summer with some fun,” reported Chicoine. “We had a really great turnout and received so much excellent feedback. It was a great day and we’re super happy with how it all turned out.”
The morning began with a number of families registering for The Amazing Race – an event that took participants to the far edges of the park on foot. The timed race took players across a total of seven checkpoints throughout Duck Mountain Provincial Park and brought awareness to the charms and diversity the destination had to offer. Teams were handed a park map and a task list to complete. Each stop offered a clue, a riddle, or an activity for players to solve before heading off to the next destination. In its entirety, the race took about two hours of hiking throughout the park and eventually looped back to finish where it had started.
Chicoine said that once the race times have been officially reviewed, the winning team will receive a prize pack through the mail that will include some Sask Parks swag and an annual 2022 parks pass. In addition, all participants will be entered to win a Sask Parks prize package.
Food trucks were parked in the heart of activities and included Pink Ladies Catering, Woodfire Pizza, and Beaver Tails pastries. Waves Ice-Cream was also a popular destination on the sun-drenched day where temperatures sailed above 30 degrees. Afternoon entertainment came in the form of live music from the Blu Beach Band - a young rock group based out of Langenburg.
Friends of Madge Lake played a big part in the day by opening their Treats and Treasures shop and hosting a brand new farmer’s market that featured 12 vendors. Market in the Park (located on an open field across from Fern Campground) included vendors selling baking, preserves, veggies, garlic, perogies, bags, jewelry, woodworking and more. Although the market was opened on a Sunday for the big event, it will continue to run throughout the summer on Saturday mornings between 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Madge Lake Bible Camp unveiled a brand new mobile climbing rock wall that was set up in the park near the farmer’s market and food trucks to promote their summer camp programs. After signing a waiver, those who wanted to try it out were strapped into a safety harness that allowed them to climb as high as they were comfortable before gently dropping back to the ground with a cable system. Although there was no charge to use the climbing wall, donations were accepted to help fund camp programs. Madge Lake Riding Stables also offered horse-drawn carriage rides throughout the park.
Ministik Beach was the place to cool off and enjoy the sand, sun, and water. Afternoon activities included carnival style games like a duck pond game, bean bag toss, and gone fishing game where children could “fish” for prizes, and a fairy wand craft station.
As evening approached, the very well-received Blu Beach Band was set up in a new location at Ministik Beach to play a second set. Waves Ice-cream and Mini Golf was on location to serve smoked brisket on a bun and fries, paired with craft beer from Back Forty Brewery as the sun set on the beautiful day.