WATCH ABOVE: It’s been ranked one of the top seven winter festivals in North America, but this year Ice on Whyte had its challenges. Jessica Kent has the details.
EDMONTON — One of Edmonton’s largest winter festivals is wrapping up for another year and organizers say it was one of the most challenging years to date.
With temperatures hitting above zero for much of the 10-day festival, Ice on Whyte’s artistic director says keeping up with the January melt proved difficult for the carving artists.
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“We had a battle,’ said Delayne Corbett. “The warm weather came in and melted all of our competition pieces and a lot of our exhibition pieces. Essentially, we lost about 40 per cent of our pieces.”
But they didn’t let the warm temperatures get them down; extra crews and more ice were brought in to transform the park “from a puddle into a winter masterpiece.”
“Mother Nature kicked our butt a few times but we certainly came back and changed things. And that’s the glory of our festival.”
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Cooler temperatures made their way into the Capital Region by the weekend, making for ideal conditions for the festival’s final day Sunday.
“It’s winter!” Corbett said with jubilation. “Winter has finally come to our festival and it’s quite exciting because everything freezes and chills, and we can go around and carve to our heart’s content.”
Dozens of people came out for the last day of festival in Old Strathcona, taking advantage of everything it has to offer. From a giant ice slide and live music to snow shoeing and delicious winter treats, there’s a little something for every winter enthusiast.
“This is a perfect day to do it,” said Daniel Straka, a Czech Republic native who lived in the U.S. before moving to Edmonton a couple of years ago.
“It’s a beautiful -17 degrees and the best thing you can do is go out and have fun in Edmonton, right?”
That’s what the annual festival is all about, after all – embracing the cold and enjoying winter in Edmonton.
“We live for our winter city,” said Straka.
“When the temperature drops we just gear up and that makes everything a whole lot easier,” said Straka’s husband, Ali Finley. “It’s very easy to just try to stay inside in the warmth when the winter comes around, but then you miss quite a bit of your year.”
Ice on Whyte is now in its 12th year. The 10-day festival was recently voted one of the top 7 winter festivals in North America by WestJet Magazine.
The festival wraps up Sunday night at 6:00 with a massive ice bonfire.