Pictured above: Prize winner Emily McPherson (centre) receiving an ATV from Chief Delores Kakegamic of Sandy Lake First Nation and Sandy Lake Northern Store Manager Tim Roach.
Residents of Sandy Lake, ON, came together to hold the community's first ever Summer Festival, a three-day event filled with exciting games, fun prizes, and nonstop celebration from July 29 to 31.
Organized by Sandy Lake First Nation, the Summer Festival was held as a way for its citizens to get together and have some fun following a long period of COVID restrictions that left many eager to see one another in an in-person setting. With attendance numbers in the hundreds each day, it was one of the largest get-togethers the Sandy Lake community had seen in years.
Friendly competitions were sprinkled in between the numerous BBQs, raffles and giveaways that outlined the festival. On the beach, the Royal Rumble pitted dozens of participants against one another on a floating dock, where each contestant would try to push all their opponents off until there was one contestant standing. Further inland, soap box cars – small non-motorized vehicles assembled from cardboard palettes and simple wheels – raced down the neighborhood slopes in heats that were as entertaining as they were thrilling.
The little ones in the community also had a chance to show off their moves – while also learning and honouring their Indigenous heritage. The festival’s Prince and Princess Pageants had cultural components that encouraged youth participants to dress up in traditional clothing as they shared what they loved about their community.
The last day of the festival, however, was arguably the most exciting. Many of the festival’s attendees were eager to join the free raffle that featured a brand-new Kodiak 450 EPS ATV as the grand prize, donated by Sandy Lake Northern.
“The summer festival was the biggest event I’ve seen in my ten years here,” says Tim Roach, Sandy Lake Northern Store manager. “I’m glad we were able to be a part of it and be here for the community.”