Winterfest in Ajax builds Family Day spirit despite frigid temperatures

A small tradition in Ajax, Ont., helps people enjoy the outdoors in February

The Great Canadian Lumberjacks, a travelling lumberjack show, kicked off the festivities at Ajax's annual Winterfest celebration this year. Gokul Gobikrishna/Toronto Observer

Poonam Swift was all smiles at this year’s Winterfest in Ajax, Ont., despite the recent snowfalls and the -6 C breeze.

“It’s a day for everybody to come out, enjoy (and) try something new,” said Swift, the event’s organizer. “There’s something to do for everybody, no matter the age group.”

Winterfest is a small tradition in Ajax, Ont., where organizers work with local businesses and other volunteers to put together an activity-filled day for all age groups — everything from horse-drawn carriage rides to sipping on fresh apple cider.

The event, held at McLean Community Centre, has been running each February for more than 10 years. The goal is to bring people together during the winter season on a day like Family Day, when the frigid weather keeps many people inside.

This year, families had the chance to try curling for the time, thanks to the addition of a synthetic curling rink.

A synthetic curling rink was a new addition to this year’s Winterfest. (Gokul Gobikrishna/Toronto Observer)

“The town of Ajax has a lot of different events that we do … and they wanted to have something in the winter when Family Day became a thing in Ontario,” Swift said. “They thought this would be a perfect day to have families come together, enjoy the snow and enjoy the fun.”


Despite snowfalls the previous week, the five-hour daytime event attracted up to 5,000 visitors, according to its organizers.

Swift said the extensive planning process began six to seven months ago with gathering ideas and speaking with vendors. The team put together most of the activities and inflatable stations the morning of the event.

Event organizer Poonam Swift (right) and her assistants Amanda Bell (left) and Tresa Jules (middle). The three worked together with other volunteers and vendors to put on an event for families to get out and celebrate.  (Gokul Gobikrishna/Toronto Observer)

Swift and her team pride themselves on appealing to both children and adults. Ajax resident Rahim Bhanwadia spoke about his family’s favourite activities this year.

“I think the lumberjack show for me and I think for one of my kids, she’s in there again (getting) a tattoo and he wants to wait for the smores,” Bhanwadia said.

Ajax Resident Rahim Bhanwadia (right) has been coming to the event with his family for the last four years. Each year they find something new to try.  (Gokul Gobikrishna/Toronto Observer)

Brandon Lynn, who lives just across from the community centre, attended the event for the first time this year with his family. He praised its positive impact.

“(It) brings communities together (and) gets the kids involved,” Lynn said. “Anytime they can get out and socialize and see other people and interact, it’s good.”

Ajax Resident Brandon Lynn (second from right) attended the event for the first time this year with his family for the first time. (Gokul Gobikrishna/Toronto Observer)

About this article

Posted: Feb 18 2019 6:58 pm
Filed under: Arts & Life