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Gimli Ice Fest around the corner, music already on

By Twyla Siple

Gimli Ice Festival’s Co-Chair Susan Holfeuer stands with her associate, Cheryl Buhler, a Gimli tourism committee member Feb 2.

Gimli Ice Festival’s Co-Chair Susan Holfeuer stands with her associate, Cheryl Buhler, a Gimli tourism committee member Feb 2.

 The Gimli Ice Festival is preparing to celebrate its seventh year in 2018, Mar. 3 and 4.

The festival’s Country Music Winter Series already kicked off with the Homespun Poets at the Ship and Plough on Feb. 3. Tickets are $5 to attend each event in their music series and proceeds of those and their prize draws go back into the festival and this year’s charity, the St. Amant Foundation.
Arts and Agriculture
Cooley’s Ice Park will be created by the same man who sculpts ice for Festival du Voyageur every year in Winnipeg, Ralph Tanchak. Owner of Splash Printing, the Stonewall artist and business man is in the process of creating two large agriculture themed ice sculpted walls along the waterfront by the pier.
Along with Tanchak, Gary Ash and Kenny Zhen of Regina SK’s Magic Ice, as seen on the popular television show, The Dragon’s Den, the magic duo will be using their recently famous moulds to create 12 hollow ice sculptures for the festival.
“The Dragons Den wanted to buy them out for 20% of the company and they said ‘Forget it, we’ll find another way.’” Holfeuer said. “So, I found them on Facebook, I messaged them, and they said, ‘What a great opportunity’. So they’re coming and they’re going to build 12 sculptures for us.”
This year’s theme for the ice festival in Gimli is “Arts and Agriculture”.
You can buy your very own special $5 all-events weekend festival pass button and stamp card in Gimli at many local businesses, such as Robin’s Donuts, the Gimli Art Club, and the Lakeview Resort. A full list of distributors, contributors, events and a schedule can be found on their website. With the button and stamp card, your all-events weekend festival pass will get you a lot of cool things.
“The free sampler is beans and weiners this year,” said Holfeuer. “We also have the Riverton and District Friendship Centre, they have been partners with us for years. And they are bringing with them a 25 foot tipi, and they are serving bannock and tea. So with your card, you get bannok and tea.”
With the Freeze Outdoor Exhibit, Fire on Ice car racing, Bombardier, SnoBear and sled rides on the lake, pond hockey, a mini snow sculpting competition, both a chili and a borscht cook-off, kids ice fishing, cross country skiing, a frozen t-shirt contest, Cooley’s indoor playground and the Sons of Lugh Viking re-enactment, forging demo and story telling and more, there’s something for everyone at the communities signature event.
“We have 42 different business partners and sponsors,” said Holfeuer. “We get a federal grant from arts and heritage, the RM gives us a grant and we get major funding from sponsors…. We give back to the community. (In the past) we did stuff for Evergreen Basic Needs, we’ve done stuff for the high school, proceeds go back to the New Iceland Heritage Museum,” Holfeuer continued.
“This year it’s St. Amant Centre,” said her associate Gimli tourism committee member, Cheryl Buhler.
The festival invited Gimli businesses to participate in their storefront decorating competition, themed “Gimli Winter”, with the hopes of participants portraying a positive message to residents and visitors alike, the festival hopes to see business and community members come together to support Gimli’s signature winter event.
To add a little competitive fun, their website explains that they plan to recognize the top three businesses that display the best storefronts with a special plaque that will be announced during the festival.
If you would like to participate, please register as soon as possible, as all participating businesses must have their storefronts decorated by February 23rd.
Judging will be conducted by several art students from the Gimli High School and will base their scores from 1 to 10 on creativity, effect and theme.
To Participate, contact Gimli Ice Festivals Co-Chair, Susan Holfeuer, 204-642-7099.
If you think you make the best chili in the Interlake, head over to the Gimli Rec Centre Mar. 3 from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.. For $10 you can enter your chili, or taste test for $1 while supplies last. First place will receive $100, second will get you $75 and third place will win $50.
The top two winners from the Gimli Ice Festival Chili Cook-Off will qualify to attend the Canadian Chili Cook-Off finals this summer, on Aug. 11 at the Kleefeld Honey Festival for the top prize of $3,000. And it doesn’t stop there. Golden Ticket winners from the Canadian Chili Cook-Off finals will be invited to attend the World Food Championships in November at Orange Beach, Alabama for the top prize of $100,000.
For more information on their events, visit

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