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Fire and Ice Festival sports low-key vibe

Traditional Family Day celebration features horse-drawn rides, a petting zoo, ice sculptures

It may be unseasonably warm with a lack of snow, but the Fire and Ice Family Day Festival is still going ahead, adopting a more low-key vibe. 

“We’ve had to pare down some of our events due to inflationary pressures. But we do appreciate the sponsors who are giving us their support during this economic climate,” said festival organizer Connor Dell.  

The host organization, St. Albert Firefighters Local 2130 in partnership with the City of St. Albert, is planning a celebration filled with ice sculptures, recreational activities, a petting zoo and wagon rides. 

Taking place Monday, Feb. 19 from noon to 4 p.m. at Lacombe Lake Park, the festival also includes a kid-sized obstacle course, crafts, skating (bring your own skates), and a display of fire trucks. 

Barry Collier, owner of Ice Works, never fails to carve spectacular ice sculptures. Since 2024 is the Year of the Dragon, he’ll be sculpting a mini-dragon about five feet long and four feet high. 

“The kids really like them, but it’s funny. They always pick up the loose ice pieces and take them home. I was just in Regina. The kids would look at the sculpture for a few minutes and then walk behind it and pick up the pieces,” Collier said with a chuckle. 

Another activity that draws long lineups is Athabasca’s Creekside Adventures' sleigh rides. This year owner Kyle Miller is bringing two teams of Percherons — one white and one black. 

“Their size and docility make them a good fit for these events. Percherons and Belgians are big horses with a big bone structure and they’re fairly calm. We’ll also have people there to show visitors how to approach horses,” said Miller. 

He encourages families to come early. 

“Last year we stopped counting at 1,750 people and we kept going until 4:30 p.m. so families wouldn’t be disappointed.” 

The Alberta Petting Zoo also returns with about 15 to 20 animals, including ponies, donkeys, a miniature cow, goats and sheep. 

“Many of our animals love the attention and are eager to come to the petting zoo. One of our goats that loves to come is a black Nubian goat named Freya, who rarely misses a zoo,” said owner Shaylin Finnegan. 

“Stitch the sheep loves to be petted and is very jealous of the rabbits. He usually hangs out by them and tries to get kids to pet him instead. Mooana, the miniature cow, was found with frozen ear tips and rescued. She loves to boss all the animals around.” 

Local firefighters are assembling a mini obstacle course that simulates the circumstances professionals train under. Kids are encouraged to test a hose pull, a dummy drag simulating a small person dragged to safety, and a long tube crawl. 

“There’s always a long lineup for the tube crawl. All kids love being active, and this one is lots of fun,” Dell said. 

Anyone feeling cold or peckish is invited to catch a bit of heat at the fire pit and s’mores station. In addition, Save-On-Foods is providing free hotdogs, snacks and juice boxes, while McDonalds hands out hot coffee. 

“Although this is a free festival, we will be taking donations for muscular dystrophy," Dell said. "It’s part of our Rooftop Campaign.” 

Parking at Lacombe Park will be prohibited. A free Park-and-Ride bus from Bellerose Composite High School leaves every 10 minutes beginning at 11:50 a.m. The last bus leaves the park at 4:20 p.m. 

Dogs are permitted but must be on-leash when outside the designated park area.  


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