The man who made Wiarton synonymous with a weather-predicting groundhog has died at the age of 90.

Mac McKenzie created the Wiarton Willie Festival in 1956. As the story goes, McKenzie initially invited some of his friends to a Groundhog Day party – only for a newspaper reporter to somehow learn about the “festival” and show up expecting to find a little more festivity than what he saw.

Over time, the festival grew to the point where thousands of people started showing up each year.

McKenzie remained a constant organizer of the festival through the decades, well into his 80s.

His cause of death has not been made public. A funeral will take place Monday at 2 p.m. at the George Funeral Home in Wiarton.