Winterfest provides weekend of entertainment

The winterfest, held last weekend, gave Sylvan Lake a chance to prove it truly is a town for all seasons.

Lighting up the sky - Fireworks lit Milestones up the sky over Sylvan Lake during Winterfest on Feb. 16.

Lighting up the sky - Fireworks lit Milestones up the sky over Sylvan Lake during Winterfest on Feb. 16.

The winterfest, held last weekend, gave Sylvan Lake a chance to prove it truly is a town for all seasons.

And the event, which featured a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including the ever popular polar bear dip and the first ever 24-hour skating marathon, did just that.

The above average temperatures may have contributed to the size of the crowd that gathered on the frozen lake to watch more than 40 brave souls leap into the icy waters, and in the process, raise thousands of dollars for local charities.

Sylvan Lake resident Grace Baxter, was part of the crowd who stood on the sidelines cheering as the polar dip participants braved the elements.

“You have to appreciate the people jumping in,” she said. “The vast majority of us are too chicken to do it.”

The skating marathon, another test of endurance, attracted 17 skaters and a great many volunteers, some of whom kept skaters supplied with food and warm drinks during a long, cold night and onto the next day.

The marathon raised more than $10,000 for the Children’s Wish Foundation.

As well as the polar dip, and the marathon, the winterfest included a youth ice fishing derby sponsored by Sylvan Lake and District Fish & Game Association, and sleigh rides sponsored by Sylvan Lake Rotary Club. A kid zone at the lake sponsored by Sylvan Lake Youth Services kept youngsters busy and happy for a few hours in the afternoon and Sylvan Lake Scouts popcorn sales also proved to be a popular venue.

Winter crafts at the library, and Sylvan Lake Archives open house proved to be interesting and fun activities.

Best Body Fitness was part of the action as well with their cardboard box races which prove popular every year. Bowling and rock climbing and a barbecue by Lighthouse Christian Academy were also part of Saturday’s fun activities.

A free indoor skate and a family day swim at the Aquatic Centre was a great way to round out the day.

New to the Winterfest this year was the Sylvan Lake and Area Early Childhood Development Coalition which provided healthy snacks and fun events for the entire family.

Debbie Oostindie, project co-ordinator said she was pleased with the turnout for the event, held at Our Lady of the Rosary School.

“It was good to see families come out and participate and, especially good to see young parents in our community so involved with their children.”

Saturday’s events were capped with a dazzling display of fireworks, a perfect ending to an action packed, fun filled day.

Mayor Susan Samson said she was pleased with the way the community pitched in and helped make this year’s winterfest the success it turned out to be.

“I loved it. Winterfest showed us that we can truly be an action packed community even in the middle of winter.”