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Spicer WinterFest providing visitors a full month of seasonal fun

The annual winter celebration is marking its 38th year, and will include traditional favorites including a castle, snowmobile racing, ice fishing and much more.

Children run up to the front of the ice castle at Spicer WinterFest
Spicer will again celebrate all that is great about winter starting this weekend with the construction of the 2023 ice castle. The 38th Spicer WinterFest will continue with several weeks of fun including snowmobile racing, ice fishing, family activities and fireworks. Children run up to the front of the ice castle at Spicer WinterFest on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune file photo
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SPICER — Pull on your snow boots, hats and mittens, zip up the parka and get ready to head to the 38th annual Spicer WinterFest . Whether you are a serious winter sports enthusiast or like your winter activities to be more indoors than out, you should be able to find something to do during WinterFest this year.

"There is a little bit of something for everybody this WinterFest," said Neila Duchene, administrator of the Spicer Commercial Club, which has put on WinterFest since 1985.

The month-long festival begins this Saturday and runs until Feb. 12, with activities, events and programs scheduled throughout the next four weeks.

"We've got the weekends very full," Duchene said. "If you are looking for events on the weekends, we've got you covered for almost a month."

Castle construction

This Saturday and Sunday will see the construction of the annual ice castle on Saulsbury Beach, built from ice blocks cut directly from Green Lake. This year's castle was designed by Jeff Travis of Travis Masonry; construction will be led by Travis Masonry and Charles Construction, with Wee Kut heading the ice cutting.

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But the vast majority of the work on raising the castle walls will come from volunteers.

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Blocks of ice are stacked, with the help of a Bobcat, on top of each other to form the Spicer Winterfest ice castle on Jan. 15, 2022. Construction of the 2023 castle will begin on Saturday.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune file photo

"Saturday and Sunday it is go time. They are cutting ice, they are laying blocks," Duchene said. "Hopefully by Sunday night it is done."

Ice depth on Green Lake was measured around 13 to 14 inches two weeks ago, though it might be a bit thicker now. Due to the heavy snowfall over the holidays, a large area near the shoreline was plowed clear, to make sure the ice stayed in perfect building condition.

This year, event planners are asking visitors not to climb on the castle once it is built, to help it stay in good condition, because once it starts deteriorating it has to come down, Duchene said, due to safety concerns. The hope is the weather will be kind over the next several weeks, allowing the completed castle to stand tall for the entirety of WinterFest and remain the perfect selfie spot for festival goers.

Snowmobile racers make a turn on Green Lake in Spicer on January 15, 2022
The Central Minnesota Pond Racing snowmobile races will take place on Jan. 21, 2023, on Green Lake.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune file photo

WinterFest speeds and heats up

The fun really starts Saturday, Jan. 21, with the WinterFest Spicer Speed events throughout the day on Green Lake. There will be the Central Minnesota Pond races, along with a speed run on Green Lake. Anyone with a snowmobile and a need for speed can take part in the speed run.

"If you are a snowmobile racer, go participate," Duchene said.

Ice fishers will flock to Green Lake both Saturday, Jan. 21 and Sunday, Jan. 22. The 10th annual Tommy Swenson Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday. Duchene said the fishing tournament organizers decided to push the annual event up this year.

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"That is a big one for our area," Duchene said. "It is a well-attended fishing tournament."

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From 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 22, budding fisherman and women will be able to wet their lines during the fifth annual kids ice fishing derby, located in front of Pirrotta Park on Green Lake. The derby is open to all children ages 15 and under.

"My two girls, who are not ice fishermen, are super pumped about it," Duchene said.

Probably the most exciting day for WinterFest will be Jan. 28 with the 18th annual Polar Plunge , Family Fun Day, fireworks and the fourth annual Fire on Ice Dance with band Uncle Chunk performing. Family fun activities will include ice carving, sledding, hockey activities with the Willmar WarHawks , kick sleds, hay rides, visits with Disney character, kid's crafts and indoor activities at O'Neil's, live music, a bonfire on the beach and tasty s'mores.

"That is an afternoon and evening of awesome fun for the kids and family," Duchene said. "If you are going to make a trip to Spicer, you need to be here for that day. It is going to be a lot of fun."

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The 18th Annual Polar Plunge held by area law enforcement to raise money for the Special Olympics of Minnesota will be held Jan. 28, 2023, on (and in) Green Lake.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

On Jan. 29, there will be a second chance for snowmobilers to race. The Sno-Skippers Radar Run will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Frozen 5k Run/Walk is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 4 with the start at Zorbaz.

The WinterFest festivities will wrap up from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 12 with the Winter Family Fun Day at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. There, families can try out various winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, riding a fat tire bike or using a kick sled. For those wanting to stay indoors, PWELC also has an indoor climbing wall or you can enjoy the warm fire and exhibits in the education building.

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Kicksleds are just one of the activities that will be available at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center for the WinterFest Winter Fun Day on Feb. 12, 2023.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

Through the month of WinterFest there will also be live music at O'Neil's and a DJ at Zorbaz on the Lake-Green Lake .

A full schedule for WinterFest can be found online at explorespicer.com/events.

WinterFest wouldn't be possible without the various business sponsors, and there was a record number this year, Duchene said. The Spicer Commercial Club is looking forward to an event that not only brings increased business to sponsors but large crowds to Spicer to celebrate winter.

"Come out for a bit of winter and enjoy what Spicer has to offer for WinterFest," Duchene said.

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Fireworks will light up the dark winter sky Jan. 28, 2023, at this year's Winterfest celebrations in Spicer.
Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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