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Monday, 30 January 2017 08:00

Elkwater Winter Festival set to take place Feb. 4

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A cultural legacy of the 2016 Alberta Winter Games lives on with the third annual Winter Festival set to take place in Elkwater Feb. 4 this year.

Organizers of the annual event are out to prove that winter isn’t boring, especially in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Alberta.
“This free fun-filled family event is just what your family needs to break those winter blues,” says Connie Matson, Winter Festival chair.
Events are set to take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. Those activities include snow golf, horse-drawn sleigh ride, skating, snow shoeing and cross country skiing just to name a few.
There will be free hotdogs and hot chocolate around an open fire at the Learning Centre starting at 11 a.m. until the food runs out.
Cookie decorating and a scavenger hunt will be hosted at 12-34 Bistro while a snowman building contest will take place at The Camp Cookhouse. There will also be fun and games planned at the Elkwater Lake Lodge.
The Elkwater Community Hall will be host to a mini market and face painting and event goers can warm up with some hot chocolate and popcorn.
There is also fun planned at the Hidden Valley Ski Resort with a “Discover Package” on offer for $25 for beginner skiers and snowboarders who are six years of age and older. These packages need to be booked in advance by contacting the ski hill.
“No matter what the weather the festival will take place as the events are scheduled both indoor and outdoor ensuring that there will be plenty of fun for folks of all ages,” adds Matson.
This is the first year the Winter Festival has been organized as a legacy of the Games. The organizing committee works under the umbrella of the Cypress Hills Park Watch.
The hope of festival organizers and those with the interprovincial park is that people who have the chance to see how many activities take place at Elkwater, will return to the park on their own other weekends to enjoy the outdoors.
“It’s great,” adds Matson. “The whole idea is to get kids out and active. Kids who are active are healthy and happy. An active child turns into a responsible, healthy adult.”
Another reason this year’s Winter Festival should be a fun day is the winter weather the southeast corner of the province has been enjoying. With cooler temperatures earlier this month and a few good snowfalls, there is snow in the Cypress Hills.
“There is tons of snow this year,” says Matson. “It’s exciting because the skating loop is open out there this year ... Come out for the day. There is lots of stuff going on.”
Mike Ratcliffe, head of visitor services for Cypress Hills Alberta, agrees the snow conditions are perfect this year at the time of this interview last week.
“This really promotes winter recreation,” he adds, about the benefits of helping host the Winter Festival. “In the Cypress Hills, there really are lots of winter recreational activities. It showcases what families can do for free at the interprovincial park.”
Even nearing the end of January and a warm up in temperatures, Ratcliffe said conditions have been perfect for snow with colder temperatures and a good base.
“Everything should be up and running and ready for people to come out and use,” he adds.
For more information about the Winter Festival, contact Matson at 403-504-3202.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor