It’s not built on solid ground, but it aims to make waves.
Anthony Foliot – otherwise known as the Snowking – has taken the octagon-shaped gift shop that was built into the city’s iconic snow castle during March’s Snowking’s Winter Festival and turned it into a grassroots visitor’s centre in Old Town.
“You could say we’re testing the waters out here,” quipped Foliot.
The structure – complete with a new tin roof and paint job – has been attached to a barge and docked it in front of the government dock in Old Town.
It’s chock-full of Snowking merchandise – including a number of new items like ball caps – but more importantly, Foliot himself will be manning the floating visitor’s centre where he’ll dispense information and assistance to tourists.
“I’m going to do my part for the community and I like to promote local events like the Ramble and Ride,” said Foliot. “We’ll put their posters up and I can let people know what’s going on in town.”
Its walls covered with photos of previous winter festivals, the centre will also be an important marketing tool for the annual event, said Foliot.
“It’s also about promoting the festival to people who might not be here or know about it happening in the winter,” he said. “Say (if) someone’s mother or friend comes up as a tourist, I can show them what it’s all about.”
Foliot insists this is not a money-making venture, “We might sell a few t-shirts but the goal is to wave the flag, be a presence and talk it up,” he said.
“There’s the funky factor of Old Town that people seem to enjoy and people can come down and shoot the breeze,” he continued. “Even if they don’t buy anything, they come down for 20 minutes and I can tell them a story or an anecdote and I can connect them with a float-plane company for example or whatever they’re looking for down here.”
Foliot hopes to provide live music near the new floating visitor’s centre. He has also approached the owner of Fish on the Bay food truck to set up shop at the government dock on weekends, he said.
In July and August, he’ll be hosting sailboat building workshops for the annual Pond Sailor’s Regatta at the location.
“Little Johnny can come down here and learn how to work a rasp and shape his boat with a parent,” said Foliot.
Foliot said he is thankful for the community’s and the city’s support and is glad that grassroots initiatives – like a floating visitor’s centre – can take root here.
The visitor’s centre will be open on weekends from noon to 5 p.m., though the hours are not set in stone, said Foliot.