Much of the northern U.S. is in the depths of an arctic deep freeze thanks to the polar vortex, but it’s just another day for us in Canada — especially for ice sculptors.
For example, if you’re at the Ennismore end of the James Gifford Causeway, you’ll see an impressive ice sculpture of a hockey player on the shores of Chemong Lake, by well-known Ennismore chainsaw carver Charlie “Woodchuk” Andolsek.
This is one of several ice sculptures in the area in advance of PolarFest, which runs from Friday, February 1st to Sunday, February 3rd in Selwyn Township.
Along with ice sculptures, the annual family festival features a snowman building challenge, hockey games, a night hike, hot air balloon rides, free skating, a candlelight skate, horse-drawn sleigh rides, fireworks, and more. The weekend culminates with the BEL Rotary Polar Plunge.
PolarFest officially begins on Friday at 6:30 p.m. with opening ceremonies at the Marshland Centre (64 Hague Blvd., Lakefield), followed by a fireworks display, a charity hockey game, and a night hike around the marsh on the Lakefield Trail led by Derek and Sheila Potter. After the hike, there’ll be hot apple cider and a beach bonfire.
On Saturday morning, there’s a free pancake breakfast at Causeway Christian Assembly (1307 Yankee Line, Ennismore), followed by the ice sculpture competition at 10 a.m. at Cenotaph Park in Lakefield. There’s also RE/MAX hot air balloon rides (weather permitting), the fourth annual Polar 5km Fun Run, the Polar Paddle (where canoes are pushed or pulled down Queen Street in Lakefield), and a free candlelight skate in the evening at the Ontario Speed Skating Oval.
Activities continue on Sunday, with an antique and vintage snowmobile show in the morning, more RE/MAX hot air balloon rides (weather permitting), more hockey games and free skating, and the grand finale: the 39th annual BEL Rotary Polar Plunge at 2 p.m. at Chemong Lake at Rotary Park in Ennismore.
This year’s Polar Plunge theme is “Hockey Plunge in Canada”, with the goal of raising $15,000. Over the past 38 years, the charity event has raised more than $680,000 for local charities and organizations.
As for the polar vortex, it’s still going to be cold on Friday with a forecasted high of -12° C and a low of -17° C overnight, but temperatures will rise significantly on Saturday and Sunday with forecasted daytime highs of -5° C and -2° C respectively. That’s good news for the brave souls who will be “freezin’ for a reason” during Sunday afternoon’s Polar Plunge.