It wouldn't be fair to send you to the festival without a few pointers. Next time you visit The Pas, 650 km north of Winnipeg, remember to pack your fur hat and maybe a few antacids. If you're female: don't shave your legs.
Feb. 13 - 17, 2013 in The Pas, Manitoba
1. Dress Accordingly
Proper attire for the festival is dictated by one part necessity and one part tradition. The necessity part comes into play because, after all, this is February in northern Canada and it can get a bit chilly. Besides, with global warming nipping at our heels, there aren't many places where we can still wear our extra bulky, extra flashy Canada Goose brand down filled parkas. The tradition part can be seen in headwear. Granted, in most parts of Canada it's okay to wear fur on your noggin. At the Trappers' Festival, it's nearly mandatory. Take your pick from a traditional muskrat hat or a fancy fox-trimmed bonnet.
2. Do Lunch
For those of you on that low carb thing, stop reading now. Today's entrée includes breaded walleye fried to a golden brown, homestyle baked beans, pan-fried potatoes with onions and a ball of bannock twice the size of your fist. If you're feeling extra peckish, add a bowl of beef stew chock full of root vegetables. That oughtta keep you fueled through the afternoon. All this is served up in the Martha Constant Parish Hall that's kept lively thanks to a local fiddle and guitar duo doing an impressive cover of Buck Owens' The Streets of Bakersfield. The lunch bill comes to an even $5. That includes dessert, just in case you weren't quite full.
3. Brush Up on Your Culinary Skills
When was the last time you built a fire? Filleted a fish? Whipped up a batch of bannock and cooked it over an open flame? Okay, it's likely been a while. The Trappers' Festival is the perfect cooking school because if you can do it here, you can do it anywhere. When the temperature is more than a few degrees below freezing, cutting lard into a flour, baking powder and salt mixture can get a bit challenging. Similarly, separating a filet from a fish with half frozen hands is tough. But just think how easy things will be back in your own kitchen when you fire up the gas range, pull out the pastry board and have that $95 Henckel knife at your disposal.
4. Save the Shave and a Haircut
The Trappers' Festival wraps up with an event called Beerfest. Need we say more? It takes place at the Legion Hall. The six-hour event provides an opportunity to buy an ice worm shooter. The squiggly thing at the bottom is the northern cousin of the tequila worm. A few shooters will help you thoroughly enjoy the following events: best beer belly, shaggiest beard, shiniest pate and World Championship Bedroom Eyes.
If you go:
Northern Manitoba Trappers' Festival happens in February. Check the Web site for this year's events www.trappersfestival.com. There are several modern hotels in The Pas. For details visitwww.thepasarea.com. It's roughly a seven-hour drive from Winnipeg. Flights are also available through Calm Air (www.calmair.com).