The Lake Superior Ice Festival drew curious newcomers and repeat visitors to Barker’s Island Saturday, Jan. 25.

Carol and Steve Skamser, who live in Superior's Billings Park neighborhood, stopped by to see the ice sculptures. They were pleasantly surprised to find the rest of the activities.

“We thought the mobile sauna with the ice hole was a stitch,” Carol Skamser said.

The event is a wonderful way for families to get out and enjoy winter, said Kim Martin, child care director with the Superior-Douglas County YMCA.

With temperatures in the 30s, attendees did just that. Children climbed snow hills and festival-goers created impromptu snowmen. The activities, from roasting s'mores to meet and greets with Disney characters, were free.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2020 Lake Superior Ice Festival

Brittany and Jeff Johnson, of Superior, brought their 4-year-old son, Raiden, to the ice races. They discovered something new along the way: the Lake Superior Estuarium.

“We like that a lot,” Jeff Johnson said. “It was probably my favorite thing.”

Terre Kemble of Chaska, Minnesota, and Linda Smidzik of St. Paul, Minnesota, decided to learn a new sport while waiting for the University of Minnesota-Duluth hockey game. Lake Superior Kubb members offered free lessons during the festival, as well as hosting a tournament.

Smidzik bowled over four of their opponents’ painted wooden pieces with one throw of a baton, earning a high-five from Kemble.

The Swedish yard game has been picking up momentum in the U.S. since the early 2000s, particularly in the Midwest. Erik Linge of Duluth and his brother, Shane, of Superior, started Lake Superior Kubb in May. Their goal is to teach people the game, connect with other enthusiasts and bring Kubb to everyone in the community.

“We’re happy to teach people how to play,” said Linge, and they even make house calls. “It’s a very friendly game.”

The group hosts Kubb in the park over the summer and indoor games in the winter. Kubb is fun for all ages and skill levels and can be played basically anywhere, Linge said, although it isn’t usually played on ice.

Ari Carlson of Superior brought her husband, Dusty; 7-year-old son, Dustin; and new pup, Ralphy, to the festival. Their top reasons for attending were the ice sculptures and the children’s activities at the Estuarium.

Carlson said she’s attended the festival when temperatures hovered well below zero.

“We were excited for this year that it was actually going to be warm,” she said.

Organizers said they welcomed community input about other activities that could be added to the festival, from kite flying to snow sculptures, said Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Linda Cadotte.

“We just need someone to be willing to lead on that,” she said.