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Scaled down Fire & Ice Festival is back

St. Albert Firefighters Local 2130 hosts the Family Day winter festival at Lacombe Lake Park on Monday, Feb. 20
Ken Hrycun and horses Tiguan and Willow give rides at the St. Albert Firefighters Local 2130 Fire & Ice Festival in Lacombe Lake Park in St. Albert on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. JOHN LUCAS/St. Albert Gazette

The Fire & Ice Festival, a celebration of ice sculpting, recreational activities, crafts and farm animals, returns to St. Albert’s Lacombe Lake Park on Monday, Feb. 20. 

The traditional host organization, St. Albert Firefighters Local 2130, has planned four hours of activities beginning at 12 p.m. They include a kid-size firefighters’ obstacle course, sleigh rides, crafts, pond hockey and a petting zoo from Finnegan Farms. 

Mychala Collier, 19, daughter of renowned western Canadian ice sculptor Barry Collier, has picked up her father’s mantle and will be on site carving a surprise sculpture from two massive blocks of ice using a chainsaw and chisel. 

Already an experienced carver featuring ice sculptures showcased at River Cree Casino, the 2021 Bellerose High graduate, still remembers her father carving at the Fire & Ice Festival in past years and hearing the admiring comments from crowds. 

“I’m so excited about the festival. It’s my first time doing a sculpture at the festival, and I feel it’s going to be really fun,” said Collier. 

Another activity that traditionally draws large crowds is sleigh rides. Kyle Miller of Creekside Adventures from Athabasca is bringing two teams of draft horses and two sleighs. One team is the white Percheron while the second team is red roan Belgians. 

“People enjoy the rides and the horses. Today they don’t get to experience sleigh rides. In years past, people used sleighs every day,” said Miller. “People like the sounds and it’s kind of peaceful. You can hear the runners squeak on the snow and you can hear bells jingling on the horses. I find it peaceful and relaxing." 

Firefighters are also building an obstacle course for children and bringing in a petting zoo with a variety of farm animals. In addition, Lacombe Lake Park is perfect for a few rounds of hockey, however, players must bring their own sticks.  

Prior to COVID, the festival attracted up to 10,000 people during warm winters, in large part due to fire dancers and fire breathers. 

“This year we’ve had to scale back due to budget cuts and the increased costs associated with inflation,” said Bryan Mroz, a St. Albert primary care paramedic. 

However, the festival will not be completely devoid of fire. Mroz said a s'mores station with a firepit will be set up for individuals looking for a snack. In addition, Save-On Foods is providing hot dogs, snacks and juice boxes while McDonalds is keeping the chill away with hot coffee. 

“This is very much a kid’s festival, and everything is free. But we do take donations for muscular dystrophy for our Rooftop Campaign for muscular dystrophy starting in March.” 

Parking at Lacombe Lake Park will not be permitted. A free Park and Ride bus at Bellrose Composite High School leaves every 10 minutes beginning at 11:50 a.m. The last bus leaves Lacombe Lake Park at 4:20 p.m. 

Dogs are permitted, however they must be on-leash when outside the designated dog park area.   

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