Over the past nine years, the Mummers Festival has become one of the holiday’s most highly-anticipated events. From lectures, screenings and craft sessions to getting rigged up, getting your “gatch on” and marching around the streets of downtown St. John’s in your long underwear and your mother’s sized 42 bra (worn on the outside of course!), the community-based event gives participants the chance to celebrate and learn more about this beloved Newfoundland tradition.
While the Mummers Parade is the crowning event, the series of workshops held prior – where a team of volunteers show participants how to craft ugly sticks and various beastly characters – are an important part of the festivities. And this year, thanks to one local business, some of those workshops have gone a lot more smoothy.
Recently, C&W Industrial in Bay Bulls teamed up with the festival to engineer a special template for making hobby horses to be used in the parade – greatly reducing the amount of volunteer labour required.
“Over the past nine years, we’ve been hosting hobby horse workshops where participants take lifeless pieces of cardboard and transform them into creepy, snapping horse costumes which can be worn at the parade or for a night of mummering. Usually we host two or three of these workshops but, considering this year’s theme (The Year of the Holiday Beast), we decided to increase the workshops to seven to include other communities in the surrounding area,” says Ryan Davis, Executive Director of the Mummers Festival.
“These workshops involve a lot of preparation, including the cutting of large cardboard templates by a team of volunteers over three evenings. It is very time consuming. We needed to cut 150 templates this year and I quickly realized that we needed to better streamline the cutting process. I consulted with furniture makers, glass specialists and sign makers who often use machine-cutting technologies. I talked to those who use laser cutters. I talked to custom metal manufacturers. No one seemed to have an idea for us.”
That is, Ryan says, until he consulted with Regan O’Rielly, mechanical engineering technologist at C&W, who presented a possible solution.
“Ryan supplied me with a picture of a paper template that they were currently using to create the cardboard hobby horse. From this, I drew up a replica, to scale, in AutoCAD and sent it back to Ryan to confirm or modify the dimensions…With the aluminum templates that we supplied, the user will lay this template on a piece of cardboard and trace the outside edges with a utility knife. Wherever there’s a slot within the template, the user will mark these with a sharp edge or pen, and these will be the fold lines,” Regan explains.
“After the user has traced all of the lines, they’ll remove the template and fold the cardboard wherever it’s marked, and they’ll have themselves a hobby horse. All that’s left then, is to tape it together and dress it up.”
The aluminum templates, Regan adds, makes the work quicker and more precise – something for which Ryan says he’s very grateful.
“We ordered two of these templates and, over three evenings (with five volunteers each night), we cut 140 cardboard templates. I was shocked!” he says.
“For years we used cardboard templates, which were less than accurate. We were tracing templates from templates from templates, which caused the shape of it to morph and distort. Now we have a very consistent method that’s easy for new-time volunteers to follow.”
Check out the Mummers Parade on Saturday, December 9 (the “rig up” begins at 1pm and the parade starts at 2pm at Buckmaster’s Circle Recreation Centre). For more information on the Mummers Festival, click here.