Teddy Bear Picnic returns tomorrow

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

A beloved community event is making its return tomorrow, giving children, families and Teddy Bears alike a chance to get outside and have a fun filled afternoon.

The Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre (FFPLTC) is once again hosting the Teddy Bear Picnic, the often-annual event for families that has been on hiatus since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. FFPLTC children’s services clerk Miss Sam Manty said the library has been trying to organize another event throughout COVID but had to hold off as additional waves swept through the province. Now that restrictions have mostly eased off, the time is ripe for the Picnic to return.

“We’re really excited to be bringing it back,” Manty said. “It’s really nice to be able to offer something for the family again, that people can come out to. We’re really fortunate, we have a lot of community partners coming out this year and setting up their own little booths and doing their own things for the picnic.”

Set to run from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Library, tickets are available online or at the door for $5, and there are backup plans to relocate inside the Memorial Sports Centre in the event of poor weather. The Picnic will feature numerous different booths from different community organizations and businesses, with something for everyone to enjoy, including music, a Teddy Bear First Aid booth and special appearances from some local farm animals.

“We have Spry Farm bringing their petting zoo this year,” Manty said.

“When we started organizing, things were a little up in the air, we decided to reach out to them and they’re going to be bringing some animals. We’re really excited for that. We’ll also have a local company doing our bouncy castle this year. And of course, we’ll have some of the regular things like face-painting, fishing pond, teddy toss. Community Living and EarlyON Fort Frances are both doing different bear art. We are going to have the museum setting up a booth this year doing some excavating. Seven Generations is going to be doing a booth with some Ojibwe teachings, and another booth where they’ll have a photo booth set up.”

In addition to these many different set-ups, Manty also said the Northwestern Health Unit is planning to have some water games and activities (that won’t get kids too wet to participate elsewhere), the Metis Nation of Ontario will be providing some musical entertainment, and the Rainy River District Paramedic Services will be serving the all-important role of Teddy Bear doctors.

“They’re going to be fixing up the bears this year,” Manty said.

“They’ll be fixing boo-boos, giving them band-aids, wrapping their heads. Things like that. Definitely an important part of the Picnic.”

Rounding everything out, Manty said the MNR Youth Rangers will again be on hand to lend a helping hand at various booths and activities, returning from the 2019 picnic.

Working to get this year’s Teddy Bear Picnic ready to go since January, Manty said she’s very excited to have the event back, and that enthusiasm also extended to the different community partners who will be on site.

“Everybody was very excited to be taking part,” she explained.

“It’s a lot of organizations that we’ve worked with throughout the years. In future years, we’re always open to more community partners. The more, the merrier, is what I say with the Teddy Bear Picnic. We’re just excited to get people out and having fun and having a big community event again, everyone together under one roof, or sky.”

Those attending the picnic are more than welcome to bring their own picnic lunches to the event with them, and Manty said they will also have hot dogs and drinks available for sale as well.