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Spicer Winterfest celebrates full, frigid glory of winter of 2022

Winter will be celebrated in its full frigid glory the next few weekends during Spicer’s annual WinterFest. Due to COVID-19, event organizers curtailed some indoor events and are adhering to guidelines promoted by the Minnesota Department of Health for scheduled events.

Spicer Winterfest ice castle 1
The ice castle for this year's Spicer Winterfest sits along the shore of Green Lake at sunset Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, as the annual winter extravaganza gears up for another year of fun.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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SPICER — Winter will be celebrated in its full, frigid glory the next few weekends during Spicer’s annual WinterFest.

“There are a lot of wonderful events going on and we’re really excited to have a fun-filled calendar again, especially after the year we had last year,” said Neila Duchene, administrator of the Spicer Commercial Club.

In 2021, because of concerns about the pandemic, the long list of usual WinterFest events was trimmed to construction of an ice castle and fireworks.

Winterfest photo gallery:

This year, with COVID-19 still very much an issue, Duchene said event organizers curtailed some indoor events and are adhering to guidelines promoted by the Minnesota Department of Health for scheduled events.

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“Luckily, WinterFest is mainly an outdoor activity,” Duchene said.

“We’ve really got events for every age and, if the weather is a hindrance, just bundle up and come out and enjoy what Mother Nature is blessing us with,” she said.

Duchene said most of the typical WinterFest events from 2020 are back this year. She said it was reassuring that local sponsors “stepped up and wanted to be involved again.”

Spicer Winterfest ice castle construction on January 15, 2022
Like any good build, ice castle construction begins with a solid foundation. Volunteers put in place the first blocks of the 2022 Spicer Winterfest ice castle on Jan. 15, 2022.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

Last weekend, snowmobile oval ice racing was held on Green Lake and volunteers constructed an ice castle.

Built from crystal-clear Green Lake ice harvested right off Saulsbury Beach, the ice castle is the centerpiece of the community event that draws tourists from all over the region, making a perfect backdrop for photos with family and friends.

The ice castle typically remains in place until warm weather makes it unsafe.

Snowmobile racing on Green Lake in Spicer on January 15, 2022
Central Minnesota Pond Racing brought a full day of snowmobile races to Green Lake in Spicer on Jan. 15, 2022, as part of Spicer's Winterfest celebrations.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

Weekend lineup

On tap this Saturday, Jan. 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. snowmobile “speed run” races will be held on Green Lake. The event, which involves one snowmobile at a time racing on a straight track against the clock, is open to all ages — even children — and a variety of snow machines, including vintage, late model, 120s and kitty cat snowmobiles, said Duchene.

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“If you can ride a snowmobile, you can participate in this race,” she said.

Registration is from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., and the cost is $5 per entry, with no charge for children 10 years and younger. Sponsored by the Kandiyohi County Sno-Skippers Snowmobile Club, the race begins at 10 a.m.

Snowmobile racers make a turn on Green Lake in Spicer on January 15, 2022
There weren't any leisurely snowmobile rides around the Green Lake track on Saturday. Racers pushed their machines as they whipped around the track as park of the Central Minnesota Pond Racing snowmobile races on Jan. 15, 2022.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

This Sunday, Jan. 23, is the kids ice fishing derby at Pirrotta Park on Green Lake. Open to kids age 15 and under, registration for the fourth annual event begins at noon, with fishing set to begin at 1 p.m. The cost is $5 for each child, who must be accompanied by an adult.

Participants must provide their own equipment and bait.

Prizes will be awarded for the smallest and biggest fish and the most fish registered. Grand prize is a two-person fish house.

Family Fun Day

Next weekend is “our biggie,” said Duchene, with most events happening on Saturday, Jan. 29.

“We’re calling it our family fun day,” she said.

The Frozen 5K run/walk begins at 9 a.m., starting at Zorbaz. The cost is $30 per person, with categories for men and women in multiple age categories ranging from 1 year old to 70 plus. Online registration ends Jan. 27 at runsignup.com/Race/MN/Spicer/WinterfestFrozen5K

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Spicer Winterfest ice castle 6
The ice castle for this year's Spicer Winterfest sits along the shore of Green Lake Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, as the annual winter extravaganza gears up for another year of fun.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

In the true spirit of thumbing a nose at winter and helping others in the process, brave souls will jump into the ice-cold water of Green Lake during the 17th annual Polar Plunge, the annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota, which begins at noon on Saulsbury Beach near the ice castle.

“We live in a chilly climate and we want to get out and celebrate all the seasons,” said Duchene. “We’re enjoying it to our fullest.”

The Polar Plunge, which typically involves participants dressing up in wacky costumes, is sponsored by the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office and Willmar Police Department.

The 2022 goal is to raise $35,000. So far, 112 plungers are registered with about $19,000 raised.

Registration is open Friday night and Saturday morning by going to plungemn.org/events/willmarspicer

Just bundle up and come out and enjoy what Mother Nature is blessing us with.
Neila Duchene, administrator of the Spicer Commercial Club

Hockey is also on the agenda, with a pond hockey tournament Saturday and Sunday at the outdoor rink at the Prairie Meadows School and a “Beat the WarHawks” event from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.

A variety of other activities are available Saturday, including kicksledding, a tractor-pulled hayride and an appearance by Disney characters from 2 to 4 p.m.

Live outdoor music by Jeff James will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saulsbury Beach and a bonfire at which to warm up will be lit at 4.

Spicer Winterfest ice castle 2
Frigid temperatures prevent any melting at the Spicer ice castle along the shore of Green Lake Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 as the annual winter extravaganza gears up for another year of fun.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Fireworks over the ice castle begins at 6 p.m., followed by the “Fire on Ice” dance from 7 to 11 p.m. with the Dam Jammers.

The dance will be held in a large tent on the beach. Duchene said hand sanitizer will be available and participants are welcome to wear masks.

Local businesses are also holding corresponding events during the weeks-long stretch of WinterFest, including music at O’Neil’s and Zorbaz. The Spicer American Legion will have an omelette breakfast Sunday, Jan. 30.

In case of inclement weather, a secondary time for the fireworks display will be 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 30.

Several events are also scheduled for the first weekend in February, including the ninth annual Tommy Swenson Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 5. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saulsbury Beach.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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