The second annual Winter in the Woods festival and fundraiser in support of the Bragg Creek Community Association will be held Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The event is sponsored by Gateway Village, a new $100-million large-scale development that was approved by Rocky View County council in 2021. The 5.1 hectare mixed-use, resort-style development will be built in the centre of Bragg Creek between the Elbow River and Cowboy Trail.
Winter in the Woods is in its second year, looking to improve on the inaugural festival’s success.
“It’s a one-day winter festival celebrating our rink and everything winter,” said event chair Brian Robertson.
The first Winter in the Woods last January was held when Robertson said people were probably pretty eager to get out of the house. It was one of the first times since COVID-related gathering restrictions implemented back in back in March 2020 that a large-scale community event of that sort was allowed to go ahead.
As proof, he said it was one of the most well-attended events the hamlet’s community association has ever done.
This year’s encore will be a huge family-focused festival with many activities taking place both outdoors and indoors – in case there’s a need for attendees to warm up.
“We’ve got something for everyone, it’s a family event,” he said.
There will be a number of hockey games on the community rink, including a match between the U13 Bragg Creek Bears and the Millarville Wildcats, and a local rivalry adult hockey game between the Powderhorn Pistols from Bragg Creek and the Redwood Meadows Bucks at 6:30 p.m.
In between, there will a skills competition, family skating, human curling and family fun zone, and free pony rides from 1 to 3 p.m., sponsored by ATB Financial.
A new event this year is called ‘Freezebee’ which is a form of Frisbee golf – but on skates.
Human curling involves teams of three or four, with one member of the team sitting on a circular sled, which becomes the ‘rock.’
“They are hurled down the ice, towards the button,” Robertson said.
He said the adapted sport was big hit last year, and called it “the talk of the festival.”
The end of the event is capped off with the Chuck a Puck event. Local businesses will sell pucks for $10. On the back of each puck is the business’s name. At 7:30 p.m., there will be a puck toss with a $1,000 prize. Then the puck is turned over, and whichever business sold the winner gets the rink named after them for a year.
If attendees get hungry or thirsty, or feel the urge to support a local entrepreneur, there will be a wide variety of food offerings, a beer garden, and an indoor artisans market.
Robertson said they’re hoping for good weather – but not too good, since warm is too warm for activities that centre around the ice surface.
“Last year it was five degrees and honestly, it gave me an ulcer,” he joked. “We were worried we wouldn’t have ice [for the hockey games].”
Winter in the Woods has become the marquee winter event in Bragg Creek, Robertson said, and is important for more than just the fundraising aspect.
It is also hoped that the event encourages tourism, which in turn benefits local businesses, which see significant foot traffic in the summer, but not as much in the winter.
“What we’ve found is in the summer tourists come out and they hang out. But in the winter, when they come out to snowshoe or cross-country ski, they generally just go to the parking lot, do their thing, and go home,” he said.
So the thinking behind Winter in the Woods is to provide a reason for Bragg Creek tourists to spend more time in the hamlet in the colder months of the year.
The event is in support of the Bragg Creek community rink, which Robertson admits is in need of some significant rehabilitation. The concrete below the ice needs to be resurfaced, and the boards surrounding the rink could use a touch-up. Robertson said the estimate to resurface the rink is around $50,000.
To register to participate in the skills competition, human curling, or any of the other activities go to braggcreekca.com or to the association’s Facebook page. Participants will also be able to sign up in person.