Ice artist James Morton was carving an owl for visitors to Blackfalds Winterfest 2019. (File Photo)

Ice artist James Morton was carving an owl for visitors to Blackfalds Winterfest 2019. (File Photo)

Budget and pandemic concerns cancels Blackfalds’s Winterfest

Winterfest has been an annual tradition in Blackfalds since 2008

The Town of Blackfalds cancelled its annual winter festival amid budget and pandemic concerns.

The Town announced on Feb. 12 that Winterfest had been cancelled for 2021, citing budget considerations and pandemic restrictions as the major factors in cancelling the favoured event.

On average, Winterfest has a budget of $22,000, which allows for activities such as wagon rides, ice slides, ice sculptures, and workshops, as well as the Kidz Zone indoor inflatables.

Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole said he is looking forward to a “ future where we all can have community events to bring us together again.”

“I’ll miss the enjoyment this event brings, and I will especially miss watching the brave volunteers as they line up to do their Penguin Dip along with the shocked faces they make as they hit the water,” Poole said.

The Penguin Dip began during the 2014 Winterfest and features volunteers braving the cold to jump into a pool of freezing cold water to raise money for a charity of their choice.

Over the course of six years, participants of raised $19,971.25 for charity.

“I have participated in every Winterfest over the past decade as it is one of my favourites, and its cancellation was not an easy decision for us to make,” shared Sean Barnes, director of Community Services.

Winterfest normally is held over the Family Day weekend. This year the Town encouraged residents to take some time and enjoy the outdoors by skating, tobogganing down one of the many hills in the area or going for a walk. Families were also encouraged to support local by shopping in town or ordering in from local restaurants.

Blackfalds’s Winterfest began in 2008, with just a few wintertime activities like pond hockey and a snowman making contest.

Since then, the event has become a full-blown festival and brings in hundreds of visitors from the surrounding area.

It was initially hosted in Centennial Park, then the Multi-Plex, then the Community Centre. For the past six years Winterfest has been held at the Abbey Centre.

To commemorate 13 years of winter fun, Blackfalds staff created a compilation of photos and videos from over the years. It can be viewed of the Town’s YouTube channel.