Being active outside is what the annual Merrimack Winter Carnival is all about, an afternoon full of free, family-friendly activities like snowmobile rides, roasting s’mores over a campfire, ice fishing demonstrations and more.
The 25th annual event returns to Wasserman Park on Saturday, Feb. 25, from noon to 3 p.m. and is open to the public.
“The idea is to get people to be kind of out and about during the winter months, and to also give them a chance to do things that they haven’t before,” said Matt Casparius, director of the Merrimack Parks and Recreation Department. “We try a little bit of everything to stay active during this time of year.”
Several local community organizations will be at the park during the carnival for free demonstrations and workshops, including a youth ice fishing derby from the Merrimack Lions Club and free snowshoeing opportunities courtesy of Eastern Mountain Sports in Nashua.
“A lot of [the community organizations] do it as a way to promote themselves,” Casparius said. “We’ve had people who have discovered organizations here at the carnival that they said they never knew existed, like the Southern New Hampshire Flying Eagles, which is a model airplane club.”
New to this year’s carnival will be the return of ice carving demonstrations by Icebreakers NH in Manchester, a feature Casparius said has been absent from the event in recent years. There will also be free snowmobile rides of a unique variety, with snowmobiles converted from 1920s-era cars.
“We used to have a local snowmobile club that did free rides that disbanded last year,” he said, “but we found this group called New Hampshire Snocar that converts Model A and Model T cars into snowmobiles, so that riding piece is kind of new.”
Other activities will include an environmental education workshop from the Naticook Day Camp in Merrimack, which will focus on how to identify different kinds of trees in New Hampshire. Several information booths will also be set up, for local organizations like the Merrimack Town Center Committee, the Merrimack Conservation Commission, and the new dog park at Wasserman that opened in December.
The cardboard box sledding contest is also returning, in which participants are invited to design their own sleds. Prizes will be awarded for fastest sled, best use of cardboard and most creative design, and all are welcome to watch the competition.
Casparius added that the Merrimack Friends & Families organization will run a concession stand selling hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, hot chocolate and water for a small fee. Roasting marshmallows and s’mores over a campfire is free.
“We usually get anywhere from 600 to 800 people come out each year, so it’s a pretty good-sized-event, and especially great for families,” he said.