Winterfest, Penguin Dip returning to Blackfalds

Members of the Blackfalds Silverbacks lacrosse team take the plunge into frigid waters during last year's Penguin Dip, as part of Blackfalds' annual Winterfest. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Don’t stay cooped up any longer – embrace winter this Family Day with Blackfalds’ annual Winterfest.

“We have a fairly long winter. It’s nice to encourage people to come out and enjoy activities we all partake in in the wintertime, whether it’s the sliding – maybe not the Penguin Dip that’s a special thing – but just to have fun in the snow and get out of the house,” said Jillian Spiess, event coordinator for the Town of Blackfalds.

“I think we’re all a bit stir crazy right now, so to be able to come out and just have a nice family fun day and enjoy the weather.”

The day will begin with a pancake breakfast in support of of the Dual Ice Development Society (D.I.D.S.) from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the Blackfalds Community Centre.

Festivities will then shift to the Abbey Centre for 11 a.m. Until 5 p.m., event patrons can take advantage of free admission to the centre’s many different recreational options, as well as hit up some of the bouncy castles and games int he field house until 2 p.m.

Outdoors, horse wagon rides will return. Ice slidesas and the Li’l Chipper ice carving workshops and demonstrations, which have become mainstay Winterfest activities, will also return thanks to the Ice on Whyte artists.

“They’re the utmost professionals,” said Spiess. “They’re really good at what they do, building and producing things people are interested in. It’s always very creative.

“We’ve also got the Little Chippers ice carving, too, which is neat because the kids can come in and sort of get a tast of what it’s like to carve ice.”

Warm up with hot dogs or Tim Hortons hot chocolate by giving a donation to the Blackfalds Fire Dept. or Blackfalds Food Bank, respectively, before taking in the most anticipated event of the day: the 12th annual Penguin Dip.

As of Tuesday, Spiess says there were 12 dippers ready to brave arctic-temperature waters for charity at the Abbey Centre Amphitheatre.

“We’ve got a few dippers for charity this year so that’ll be exciting. I’m sure they’re probably regretting their decision at this point since it’s freezing out, but we do have hot tubs,” she said. “It was a hard sell this year, especially since this cold has been extended. Every time you put the call out, people were like ‘I don’t know, -30 is pretty crazy.”

Still, even with the cooler temperatures, the numbers are on par with recent years.

Festivities don’t stop with the Penguin Dip, either. From 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., a free family skate party will be held at the Multi-plex Arena. The Blackfalds Youth Crew will also host family bingo at the Community Centre, and if bingo’s not your thing, Dad’s Day Off will provide a number of board games for families to try out in the same location.

All activities are expected to go ahead regardless of the weather, so spectators and patrons are encouraged to dress warmly, and to also bring food bank donations.

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