By Sue Tiffin
When The Minden Experience adventure fun park opened last Saturday a steady stream of visitors came in to meet new owners Alisa and John Dermott and take a look around the revitalized facility which was formerly known as Pole Position Kartways.
For many of the guests it wasn’t the first time they had been on the property and stories of nostalgia for days gone by and excitement for the grand reopening on May 18 and fun days to come were shared alongside a lap or two around the go-kart track.
Debby Apollinaro of Beech Lake said she visited the fun park located on Ravine Road at Hwy 35 back in 1966 when she was about 12.
“It would have been a big treat to come here and then you would go on to Kawartha Dairy of course” she said. “It’s exciting because it’s a piece of the family history coming back. And then of course I would bring my kids here the circle of life.”
Apollinaro said now more than 50 years later she’ll be bringing “all the grandchildren” to The Minden Experience.
Mayor Brent Devolin said his family moved to the area in 1969 and he doesn’t recollect the fun park ever not being there.
“Wearing my day hat obviously to see another business reinvigorated in Minden Hills is awesome” said Devolin who was in attendance with wife Laurie. “It expands the experiences and things that people can do while they’re in our community. On a personal note I’ve made more than a couple of laps around this track and to do it again absolutely makes me happy.”
It was that sense of happiness that made Alisa and John inquire about the facility on one of their visits to the fun park on the way to their cottage on Beech Lake.
“First [the previous owner] said no and then he said maybe and then he said OK” said Alisa.
They note that many visitors have told them they didn’t realize the facility was still open.
Since moving here permanently in November and taking possession of the space in April the pair have been busy painting and upgrading the fun park so that it offers go-karts batting cages a mini-putt course and a “unique chipping range” that runs down a slope with targets at the end as well as a snack bar.
“This is our semi-retirement plan but the last month there’s been no semi-retiring” Alisa laughed.
Their future dreams are filled with adventure with the potential to add ziplines paintball axe-throwing campsites and potentially even concerts in which music fans bring their own lawn chairs for “The Musical Experience.”
“We’re just going to start out slow and keep adding” said Alisa.
A pavilion with a barbecue makes room for corporate events such as team-building days and birthday parties – Alisa herself a cottager for almost 40 years brought her son now 30 to the facility for his 12th birthday party back in the day.
“People are very excited that it’s going to be revitalized a lot of people thought it was closed” she said. “People are excited that we’re making a presence known here. I have a feeling we’re going to have a lot of people come back who used to come years ago.”
Both Alisa and John are thrilled as they introduce people at the grand opening to the park pointing out the snack bar handing out gift bags talking about the history of the facility and their future plans.
“I love the fact that it’s outside and I love the fact that we get to see all of these families” said Alisa.
“The social part’s great we get to talk to everybody” said John who said it’s an incredible opportunity to get the chance to teach two young sons about business and having fun at the same time.
“We’re excited to meet locals because I’ve been coming up here for 38 years and I know my neighbours but to become involved in the community is very exciting for us” said Alisa. “Just come and meet us we want to meet everybody. We’re happy to be here we’re excited to be here we have wonderful staff helping us we’re just excited to become a part of the community.”
In the off-season The Minden Experience will be open from about 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and all-day Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beginning July 1 The Minden Experience is open all-day every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m until Labour Day when it switches back to off-season hours until Thanksgiving. For more information visit The Minden Experience on Facebook or online at themindenexperience.com.