Ice Fest broke the region’s winter blues | News, Sports, Jobs

It’s that time of year when everyone could use some kind of seasonal pick me up.

Some call the feeling they get at this time of year “cabin fever.” Others call it the “winter blues“.

Whatever it’s called, it seems to be the time of year when the “blas” seem to take hold in the people of northeast Michigan.

While other parts of the country might start thinking about warmer temperatures, we know that in Michigan we still have at least six weeks (and maybe eight to ten) of tough sledding ahead of us.

We don’t need a groundhog to confirm that.

That’s why something like the Ice Fest held in Alpena last weekend was so important.

Despite the single-digit temperatures, hundreds of residents braved the cold to enjoy the festivities. From a horse-drawn wagon to a bonfire, from ice sculptures to a toboggan hill, it was a special day for everyone who took part.

When I looked around last Saturday, all I saw were smiles. And believe me, there were a lot of them. The ice sculptures, in particular, were magnificent and, for those alone, the festival was a huge success.

It also helped that Saturday was filled with bright sunshine and bright blue skies. People were able to get out and, even if they could only stay outside for a short time because of the weather, they at least got out of the house and moved around, talked to others and remembered that the Winter doesn’t have to be spent indoors.

The Ice Fest was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I believe that was especially true this year. In the past, this newspaper has always sponsored the Business Expo and Newspapers in Education Book Sale on the first Saturday in February, but, this year and last, concerns over the coronavirus forced the newspaper to delay events.

Although not an outdoor event, the book display and sale allowed residents to get out of the house and take a leisurely stroll to visit others, see the latest businesses in area and get some real bargains on books to carry over to what’s left of winter.

It was also a good way to fight “cabin fever”.

The disappointment of not having these events for two Februarys in a row was noticeable. People miss the camaraderie and the change of scenery.

Ice Fest – held just a week later than when Business Expo usually happens – has helped this year shake up their sluggish outlook. And, building on its success, I hope it will come back next year. Years ago, Alpena’s Winter Carnival was a huge draw every year, and so should Ice Fest.

If I had one recommendation for organizers it would be to borrow an idea suggested to me by former editor Steve Murch, which is why not have snow sculpting competitions that day as well ?

Since city employees were able to create a toboggan run for the event, you’d think it shouldn’t be so difficult to haul snow and set it up in different spots for a carving contest. on snow.

Can you imagine a combination of snow and ice art!

Literally and figuratively, how COOL would that be?

Bill Speer recently retired as publisher and editor of The News. He can be reached at

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