— It looks like Old Man Winter arrived just in the nick of time to provide a seasonable backdrop for the 39th annual Spicer WinterFest. While the slow start to winter and the lack of snow and ice earlier in January means there will be no ice castle or snowmobile races this year, there are still plenty of events for all ages on the schedule to celebrate winter.
"We really wanted to celebrate winter in all its beauty," said Neila Duchene, of the Spicer Commercial Club.
Most of the events will take place on, in front of (on the lake) or around Saulsbury Beach in Spicer. To set a special scene, a group of volunteers spent many cold hours over the last few weeks hanging up lights around the beach to create the WinterFest Festival of Lights. The display, and beach, will be aglow on Jan. 27.
"It will be really beautiful," Duchene said.
A full schedule of events can be found on the
Spicer Commercial Club website
. Weather can continue to impact events and updates will be posted.
The first major event of WinterFest is the sixth annual Kids Ice Fishing Derby, set to take place 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 21 in front of Saulsbury Beach on Green Lake. The derby is open to all kids 15 years and younger. Registration is from 12 to 1 p.m. and there is a fee of $5 per child. All participants must be with an adult, though the adults can not catch the fish. More information can be found on the
event's Facebook page
The winter fun really kicks off at 12 p.m. Jan. 27 with the 19th annual Polar Plunge. Sponsored by the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office and the Willmar Police Department, the plunge is a fundraising benefit for the Special Olympics of Minnesota. Registered teams raise funds and then take a quick dip in the frigid waters of Green Lake.
Jan. 27 is also WinterFest Family Fun Day, with a day full of activities. The sledding hill will be open from 12 to 6 p.m. All are welcome to slide down, they just need to bring their own sleds.
Starting at 2 p.m. the public are welcome to bring and fly their kites on the beach while hayrides and visits from Disney characters add to the excitement. The crafts and indoor activities for kids will run from 3 to 5 p.m. in the O'Neil's Event Center. Ava Hanson will be performing from 3 to 6 p.m. on the beach.
Visitors will be able to warm up around the WinterFest bonfire at the beach from 4 to 6 p.m. and enjoy some sweet s'mores.
"We have lots of opportunities to warm up," Duchene said.
The beach fun will conclude with a beautiful fireworks show at 6 p.m.
The celebration doesn't stop when the fireworks do. The fifth annual Fire on Ice Dance will take place from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the O'Neil's Patio and Event Center. The dance is $10 per person and is open to those over the age of 21. Fat City All-Stars will be providing the musical entertainment.
Those wanting even more entertainment can check out Zorbaz. There will be line dancing from 7 to 10 p.m. and Mike Nelson in the DJ Bar from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
WinterFest festivities continue throughout the rest of January and into February. The Frozen 5k Run/Walk will start at 9 a.m. Feb. 3 in front of Zorbaz. On Feb. 11 there will be the Winter Dance show with Just for Kix from 12 to 2 p.m. at the New London-Spicer High School, and the Winter Family Fund Day at
Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center
. Families can try a whole host of different winter activities at the center such as cross-country skiing, kicksleds and the indoor climbing wall.
"There is so much WinterFest to get out and enjoy," Duchene said.
WinterFest is put on by the Spicer Commercial Club, and is made possible by a large group of sponsors and volunteers.
"Even though it was late arriving, winter is finally here and we want to celebrate it," Duchene said.