The Abbey Master Builder Centre will be the primary hub of activity for the 2015 Winterfest event, with a free family skate to follow at the Multi-Plex.
“We have some big changes for 2015. We used to do a fireworks show in the evening, and we’re not doing that this year. In years past we’ve had to cancel for extreme cold and things like that. Instead, we’ve put more funding into ice carving, ice slides, and other winter activities. We’ve contacted Ice on Whyte and will have some professional ice carvers who will be doing an ice maze for the kids, some ice slides and ice carvings,” said FCSS manager and Winterfest Task Force member Sue Bornn.
The Abbey Centre will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a 50% discount on admission. From noon to 3 p.m. there will be a free Servus Kids’ Zone, with bouncy castles and interactive activities.
From noon to 5 p.m. sleigh rides will depart from and return to the Abbey Centre, free of charge, with an included treat of hot chocolate for each passenger.
The rides will depart approximately every 15 minutes. Also at the Abbey Centre will be a Telus Fibre Snow Dig, where kids must bring their own small toy shovels to search for magnets that can be turned in for prizes.
“We’ve also got a couple guys that are going to be facilitating the ‘Little chippers ice carving’ workshop. So from one to three, we’re going to have tables set up where kids can go through. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes if they’re interested. They can learn to carve and try their hand at it,” Bornn said.
“We’re going to have a world-renowned ice carver from Ice on Whyte do some demonstrations, probably between noon and 1 p.m.
“Hopefully, those sculptures will stick around and we will get some nice winter weather so that people can enjoy those long after Winterfest, because it is only a one-day event on Family Day.”
A Penguin Dip will be one of the highlights of the event.
Each dipper is raising money for a specified charity of their choice. Donations are collected prior to and on the day of the Dip, which will take place in the natural amphitheatre outside of the Abbey Centre on the north side of the building.
“Each dipper gets to pick their own local charity. I know that we have one who is raising funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters for Blackfalds and Lacombe. Another is raising funds for our FCSS programs,” said Bornn.
“Each person registers and then we expect each dipper to collect a minimum of $100 for their charity of choice.
“I think we’ve got a little over 10 dippers this year, so we could have up to 10 charities being sponsored. Often times, we will have people doing the challenge in twos so that they can raise their funds easier. You can always donate on the day of the event, as well.”
Visitors to Winterfest are being encouraged to bring non-perishable donations for the Blackfalds Food Bank, which experienced its highest-ever recorded level of use in January. Bornn said the food bank is looking for boxed cereals, canned fruit, canned pasta and Kraft Dinner.
“We saw more folks use the food bank in the month of January than we’ve ever had historically.
“If we can get everyone to bring out some donations that would really help. Cash donations are always accepted as well,” she added.
A full schedule of events is available on the Blackfalds town web site. The Winterfest events at the Abbey Centre will wrap up around 3 p.m. although discounted admission for regular Abbey Centre amenities will still be available until 5 p.m. A free-family skate will begin at 6 p.m. at the Multi-Plex, with sound by Juiced Audio.
At the same time, the Blackfalds Youth Crew will also host a family bingo in the upstairs area of the arena.