Superior preps for icy celebration

The Lake Superior Ice Festival will bring old favorites and new activities to Barker's Island.

Superior Ice Festival Fireworks 2020 - 1
People watch the fireworks over the Lake Superior Ice Festival on Barker’s Island from the front of Fairlawn Mansion in Superior on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. The festival will take place on Jan. 28-29 this year.
Jed Carlson / 2020 File / Superior Telegram

The Lake Superior Ice Festival returns to Superior Jan. 28-29.

The community event has grown so large, one area can’t contain it all. In addition to favorites like ice racing, fire twirlers, a snow slide, skating rinks and fireworks, new events will include a mini golf course, snowshoeing demonstrations, an ice carousel and a percussion ensemble performing with instruments made of ice.

"I feel like you're going to have a hard time fitting everything in, really, which is an awesome problem to have," said Linda Cadotte, director of parks, recreation and forestry for the city of Superior.
“I think the best way that the community can prepare for this festival is to prepare to be outside for a couple of hours enjoying the snow and the ice and the weather that winter brings,” said Nikky Farmakes, marketing director for the Superior-Douglas County Area Chamber of Commerce.

Cheri Fitch with the Humane Society of Douglas County said her favorite event is the fireworks. Her husband enjoys the ice races.

“But what's great is there is something for everyone, young and old,” Fitch said. “There are so many activities and things to see. It's really great.”


Superior Ice Festival 2020 - 2
Brantley Johnson, 2, of Superior, watches as his mom roasts marshmallows at the Lake Superior Ice Festival on Barker’s Island in Superior on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.
Jed Carlson / 2020 File / Superior Telegram

The show will go on, rain, shine, snow or subzero temperatures. Past festivals have taken place in weather ranging from -10 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

“My excitement kind of hit the roof yesterday when we found out that the ice was pretty much thick enough for everything to run normally,” Farmakes said. “So we’re looking at a definitely icy Ice Festival this year.”

Much of the activity will take place on and around Barker’s Island, with free hay bale shuttles between sites. This year’s trivia contest, however, will send participants on a tour of Superior to find more than 20 original ice sculptures outside local businesses. Each one will pose a question that explorers can answer. The contest runs through Feb. 11. Those who answer all the questions will be entered into a prize drawing.

The trivia contest is more than a creative way to get people to learn about local businesses, Farmakes said; it also expands the festival into the greater Superior area.

Many local businesses will be offering specials during the event , financial sponsors have stepped up to help and a number of organizations will provide volunteers to tend bonfires and provide demonstrations.

“This has really evolved into just a very dynamic, extraordinarily community-supported and -involved festival,” Cadotte said.

Nearly all the events during the family-friendly festival are free. There are indoor options, as well. Visitors can try something new like Kubb or disc golf, or watch as artists transform blocks of ice into sculptures. Food vendors, including Superior Waffles, Earth Rider Beer and Thirsty Pagan Pizza, will also be on site.

MIRA races at Lake Superior Ice Festival 2020
Fans line the track to watch Parker Wewerka (9) win the King of the Quads race at the Midwest Ice Racing Association’s races at the Lake Superior Ice Festival on Barker’s Island in Superior on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. MIRA will host races at the 2022 festival, as well.
Jed Carlson / 2020 File / Superior Telegram


Best in show

One doggone popular event is already gearing up. The Canine King and Queen Contest is a chance for participants to showcase their pet’s charm and support a great cause. Owners can register their furry companions online through Thursday, Jan. 20, for $5 per entrant. Online voting, for a fee of $1 per vote, will take place Jan. 21-24. The winners will be announced at 1:15 p.m. Jan. 29.

All funds collected through the contest support the Humane Society of Douglas County. Last year, the competition raised more than $7,400 for the nonprofit, according to Fitch, the humane society's fundraising and events coordinator. The money raised covers everything from vaccines and medical supplies to food and spay/neuter procedures for animals seeking forever homes.

This year, the competition will include a feline category. The canine winners will be crowned onstage at the festival. Cadotte said the feline winners will have their likeness carved into an ice sculpture.

Water to ice

Families, child care centers and fifth graders at Lake Superior Elementary School are helping create an artistic display of ice orbs for the city. Orb 365 is a community art collaborative. Participants make a pledge to use less water or prevent water pollution. As a symbol of that pledge, they create ice orbs for the installation using water and balloons.

“The community goal is to make 365 ice orbs, whereas each ice orb represents a day of the year when clean water is vital to us,” said Megan Högfeldt, water resources specialist with the city. “So, as a community, we are pledging to protect our water.”

Volunteers can fill out and submit the pledge form online . They will be contacted to schedule a time for a balloon drop/pick up. The ice orbs should be 6 to 8 inches in diameter and can be tinted with food coloring if desired.

UWS connection

The University of Superior-Wisconsin will be offering a number of activities in conjunction with the event. Families can skate with the Yellowjackets from 3-5 p.m. Jan. 29 on one of the two available ice rinks.

Staff from the university’s Superior Adventures will provide demonstrations of snowshoes, winter camping and winter outdoor recreation activity equipment Jan. 29. A snowshoe course will be available for adults to try out.


From 3:30-4:30 p.m. Jan. 29, a percussion ensemble from the UWS Music Department will play an entire musical performance with instruments made of ice.

Each of the departments made the decision to participate on their own, according to Jim Biros, UWS communications specialist.

“The Lake Superior Ice Festival is such a fantastic event for the community, and UW-Superior is very excited to be a participant this year,” he said.

A full listing of events can be found online at

This story originally contained outdated information on volunteer contacts. It was updated at 4:27 p.m. Jan. 18, 2022 with the removal of that information. The Telegram regrets the error.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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