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Friday, February 1, 2019

Saturday Is Groundhog Day

Wiarton | by Claire McCormack  

Wiarton Willie is set to predict an early spring or long winter at 8:07 Saturday morning.

Groundhog Day will be a little different this year. It's on the weekend instead of its usual weekday prediction and the town of South Bruce Peninsula has also taken over organizing the festival for the first time.

On Saturday February 2nd, crowds will gather at the Wiarton Arena to hear the prognostication of an early spring or a long winter.

The 63rd Wiarton Willie Festival Groundhog Day ceremony starts at 7:15, the prediction is set for 8:07.

Mayor Janice Jackson says activities include a free breakfast, fireworks display and activities in Bluewater Park, "It's a lot of fun," says Jackson.

People can enjoy horse drawn sleigh rides, vendors, demonstrations, the First Nations Snow Snake and a hockey shoot out.
There will be live music, Little Ray’s Reptiles, a Sunwing Fun Zone, face painting, kids games, 'selfie' booth and scavenger hunt.

There is also snooker tournament, Chili Chow-Down and dancing at the legion and at the arena.

The festival is more than one day long, in fact, it starts Friday with a pajama party, a casino night, hockey tournament and karaoke.

After prediction day, Sunday's activities include a school groundhog jog and hockey tournament. The Wiarton Legion will host a Superbowl Sunday event. There will also be a Robbie Burns dinner at the Wiarton Meeting place.

A full list of events can be found in the FESTIVAL PROGRAM

Meanwhile, Mayor Jackson explains the last festival the Wiart Chamber of Commerce officially put on was the 60th, before they took a step back, "It takes an awful lot of work," says Jackson, explaining "Your volunteers run out of gas eventually."
After the chamber retired from festival organization, volunteers worked together to put the event on since the town wasn't prepared to do it, but Jackson says it's not always easy to find people to run the event.

"I went to council and said, listen, you know, Wiarton Willie is so important and so critical to our town that really, we should get involved in this festival. We need to get all in or get all out and council agreed," says Jackson who notes the festival will likely be run by the Town in future years.

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