High On Ice back in full force

The High On Ice Festival is back in full force this year, and everyone seems to be teeming with excitement.

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Three men in warm winter gear standing in front of blocks of ice.
Ice carvers Dmitri Klimenko, Ryan Cook and Kevin Lewis.(Jordan Prentice, Energeticcity.ca)

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The High On Ice Festival is back in full force this year, and everyone seems to be teeming with excitement.

Victoria Butler, the city’s arts and culture programmer, said there are events returning that were not available when pandemic restrictions were in place.

“We’re back in the park, we’re back to community games, we’re back to our sponsors really coming out full force to support,” Butler said.

Since 2020, the community could only take in the drive-thru edition of the festival.  In 2021, there were no international ice carvers, ice slides, or contests held in the park.

A Laugh Your Ice Off comedy show was available with proof of vaccination in 2022. The stand-up comedy event will be held again this year at the Lido.

In 2023, Butler said there will be some contests, prizes, a chippers wall, where kids can learn how to chip ice, live music and food.

Ice slides are also making a return in 2023.

“The crew really spent a lot of time making sure that they are gonna be awesome,” Butler said.

The team of ice carvers worked hard on the slides and made five of varying sizes.

New this year is the McElhanney slide counter to track how many times the slides have been used. A contest will also be available, where attendees will be asked to guess how many times the MNP Ice Slides will be used over the weekend.

The ice carvers, who have been coming from around the world for years now, said they were excited to be back and be able to work on the slides.

City staff and ice carvers have been setting up the festival for the past couple of weeks, though warmer temperatures have caused some issues.

“The temperatures are starting to cool a little bit, so they’re having a little bit more luck getting the sculptures to stick,” Butler said.

Kevin Lewis said he and some other ice carvers are working on a wall welcoming guests to the festival that fits with the “Explore the Folklore” theme.

A close up of an ice sculptured Kraken hanging onto the side of a boat.
The start of a High On Ice sculpture. (Jordan Prentice, Energeticcity.ca)

“So it’s a boat with a Kraken, and then we’ll add the tentacles and all that later on,” Lewis said.

Two men working on an ice sculpture at the High On Ice festival in Fort St. John.
Ryan Cook and Kevin Lewis working on an ice sculpture. (Jordan Prentice, Energeticcity.ca)

Ryan Cook is carving out dinosaurs of Tumbler Ridge and “the kid who discovered them.”

“Except they’ll be more ‘fan-friendly’ dinosaurs instead of the actual ones that they discovered,” Cook said.

Dmitri is working with Garry Oker of Doig River First Nation on “Indigenous spiritual creatures.”

A man working on an ice sculpture with a truck driving behind the sculpture.
Dmitri Kliminko working on one of his sculptures. (Jordan Prentice, Energeticcity.ca)

The ice sculptures are free to view, and food vendors and a beer garden will also be available.

Mighty Peace Brewing, Beards Brewing and an ATM will be on-site all weekend.

The full Community Round-up with Butler can be viewed below:

Thanks for Reading!

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