Winterfest bringing wintry family fun for Family Day weekend
The annual Penguin Dip will be the main attraction during the Town of Blackfalds' Winterfest festivities on Feb. 19. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
Dive into a weekend full of wintry, family festivities Feb. 16-19 as Winterfest hits more than one place in Central Alberta.
The Town of Blackfalds will be the place to be on Family Day as they host their 11th annual Winterfest celebrations from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
At the centre of it all is the 12th annual Penguin Dip, where people are encouraged to put on their best costume and take an icy plunge into arctic waters for a good cause.
“It’s a shock to the system,” said Abbey Centre Program Coordinator Kurt Jensen, who says he’s taken the plunge himself for the past eight years in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “The temperature change is crazy, but it’s fun.
“It’s a really good way for groups to fundraise for themselves, but also to get exposure.”
Those looking to brave frigid waters in support of any charity they want can still register for the event by viewing the registration package online at www.blackfalds.com/public/download/documents/36967.
Preliminary registration, according to Jensen, indicates 2018 will likely be a record year for penguin dip participants, set to top the 20-mark.
However, the penguin dip is just one of many Winterfest activities taking place on Family Day.
“People can expect a lot of the same staples as past years,” he said.
Kicking off the day is a pancake breakfast put on by the Dual Ice Development Society (D.I.D.S.) from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Blackfalds Community Hall. The breakfast is a fundraiser for the group working to twin the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena and provide a second indoor ice surface for the community.
The majority of festivities, however, will get underway at 11 a.m. The Abbey Centre will offer free admission to the indoor play space and field house for the day, and a kids zone – complete with bouncy castles and games – will be set up in the field house as well.
Horse-drawn wagon rides will return, as well as the ever-popular ice slides, snow maze, and Li’l Chipper ice carving workshops and demonstrations throughout the day.
Those feeling a little famished from all the festivities can get a hot dog, juice and chips by making a $2 donation to the Blackfalds Fire Department from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m., or warm up with some hot chocolate from Tim Hortons from 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. with donated proceeds going towards the Blackfalds Food Bank.
At 2:30 p.m., penguin dippers will go for a splash, and from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. all are invited to lace up their skates for the Juiced Audio Free Family Skate Party.
The Blackfalds Youth Crew will also host a family bingo on the second level of the Multi-plex Arena in the banquet room.
Not returning this year, however, is the kids snow dig. While it may return in the future, Jensen said this year they were unable to find a sponsor.
Blackfalds, however, won’t be the only destination for those looking to get outside over the Family Day weekend.
The Town of Sylvan Lake will also be hosting their annual Winterfest Feb. 16-19. Ticketed community dance events will be held on Feb. 16 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake Community Centre.
Saturday, Feb. 17 is the big day of events there, however, with the Lion’s Pancake Breakfast from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. at Lion’s Hall, a chili and a bun lunch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 212, and a plethora of games and activities lake side in support of various community groups including a petting zoo, sleigh rides, mini gold, snow zone, s’mores and more.
In the afternoon at 1 p.m., they’ll host their own version of the Penguin Dip – the Polar Bear Dip – on the west side of the pier. Fireworks will also be launched at 7 p.m. from the pier.
On Feb. 19, there will be $2 admission to the NexSource Centre.
In Bentley, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., people are invited to take a tour of the town during an old fashioned sleigh ride hosted by the Bentley Museum. The event is completely free, and includes hot chocolate or apple cider to help wash down freshly baked cookies.