If the local weather turns Canadian cold, dipping bitterly the way it can in some of our northern neighbor’s provinces come Feb. 11, kidscommons children’s museum can offer a perfect solution.

So says Patty Hannasch. She’s one of four of the chairs of the museum’s 14th annual Carnivale: Canada fundraiser that night.

She recommends a caribou, for starters, to help you … well, chill.

“It warms you up from the inside,” she said with a laugh of the drink of red wine, whiskey and maple syrup or sugar especially popular in Quebec.

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That will be just one distinctive element of the northern nation-tinged auction fundraiser that set a record with an attendance of 375 people raising $150,000 last year, according to organizers.

Patty Hannasch and her husband, Brian Hannasch, should know whereof they speak. Brian serves as president and chief executive officer at Alimentation Couche-Tard, a Canadian firm. And the couple regularly spends time in Montreal, where they have a condo.

But Patty Hannasch acknowledged that the themed event, sometimes known for the playful attire those themes have inspired, will pose more of a costume challenge this year. But her creativity already is flowing.

“I’m looking for a toque,” she said of the wintry caps. “I could almost have maybe a lumberjack look.”

Carnivale draws its inspiration from the Lenten-season, carnival-style celebrations in areas such as in Brazil. Interestingly, the festive atmosphere unfolds right inside kidscommons, where a record 50,000 youngsters, parents and others visited last year to celebrate fun, from the simple to the scientific.

This year, though, because of increasing crowds and limited space inside the three-level facility on Washington Street, part of the group of supporters are expected to spill outside, where a heated tent on a closed street will house event band The Tiptonians performing its special mix of pop-rock tunes. The ensemble triggered strong positive feedback at last year’s bash.

The tent also will feature plenty of space for about 100 Carnivale cronies to dance away the night.

The added space is the brainstorm of museum staff who remain committed to keeping their signature event in the facility that in and of itself spurs more interest and support. Last year alone, several attendees who were interviewed said it marked their first visit to the building — and gave them a whole new appreciation for kidscommons’ mission of entertaining and educating simultaneously.

“The crowd is a great problem to have,” said Diane Robbins. the museum’s community relations and marketing manager about the attendance. “We like the idea of keeping it right at the museum so people can continue to see exactly what they’re supporting.”

There will be more than 50 silent auction items to bid on that include overnight packages, sports tickets, dining opportunities, birthday party packages, golf outings and a few surprises. The live auction includes tickets with a suite and transportation to the Indianapolis 500, vacation opportunities, and other options.

“It’s really such a fun event,” said Katie Schoeff, the museum’s operations manager. “And I think it’s particularly fun to see adults enjoy the museum in their own way.”

In keeping with the theme, the night will feature Gethin Thomas Catering preparing a menu of Canadian fare.

The first two hours of the gathering will feature a disc jockey’s tunes from Canadian artists ranging from Celine Dion to Sarah McLachlan to Michael Buble. Of course, Canada also boasts the likes of Justin Bieber, often considered a polarizing performer — a fact that organizers already recognize.

“Um, I don’t think we’re going to have any Justin Bieber,” Patty Hannasch said.

Canadian bakin' and shakin'

What: kidscommons 14th Annual Carnivale: Canada fundraiser featuring a silent and live auction, Canadian dishes, recorded and live music and dancing.

When: 7 to 11 p.m. Feb. 11.

Where: kisdcommons museum, 309 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Tickets: $75 per person, available at the museum or by phone at 812-378-3046 or at kidscommons.org. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.