ELY – The Ely Winter Festival set for Feb. 4-14 will have a very different look and feel.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and mandated public health protocols, the Snow Sculpting Symposium will be scaled back. Organizers also said there will be no Whiteside Park skating rink. The Kubb tournament and Great Nordic Beard Fest are called off this year. In addition, there will be no literary gatherings, or hikes to Sigurd Olson’s cabin or Hegman Lake. The sled dog meet and greet was also put in the kennel this year. The Ely ArtWalk, however, will resemble past years.
“To enhance everyone’s ability to experience and enjoy the festival we are adding a virtual piece to the Snow Sculpting Symposium and the Ely ArtWalk over the ten days of the festival to provide for our artists’ and community’s safety,” said EWF Board Chair Chris Kloppenberg. “This will allow our in-town and out-of-town friends an opportunity to enjoy the festival from home.”
She added, “This was a very tough decision, but we know it’s important to keep Ely safe. We’ll be back with a traditional festival in 2022.”
The virtual experiences will include daily Snow Sculpting Symposium progress videos and a virtual walk through Whiteside Park after the sculptures are completed. People will also be able to watch daily Ely ArtWalk videos featuring different artists each day.
The 2021 Ely Winter Festival pin is available for $6 at the EWF headwaters, located at Northern Grounds. Pins are also available at Zup’s Market, Ely Northland Market, Front Porch Coffee and Tea Co., and Piragis Northwoods Company.
“As in the past, one dollar from each festival pin sale will go to an arts program at the Ely public schools,” Kloppenberg said. “You can also purchase them online at our website.”
Also during the EWF, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, nature photography, observing the night sky, and numerous art classes will be offered by the Ely Folk School, either by Zoom or outdoors. These are listed at www.elywinterfestival.com with more detailed descriptions at www.elyfolkschool.org.
Some traditional events will also be offered this year, including the Vermilion Community College’s Law Enforcement program’s ice fishing contest and a virtual fundraiser for the Dorothy Molter Museum. Check out the calendar of events at www.elywinterfestival.com.
Videos will be posted daily on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elywinterfestival, and on the Ely Winter Festival’s website. “Like” and “Follow” EWF to get daily notifications. “The Ely Winter Festival is committed to celebrating winter, community and art while keeping the community safe and healthy. We will comply with whatever state mandates exist at the time, and we believe we can still celebrate while staying safe,” Kloppenberg said.
The Ely Winter Festival receives major support from Ely Family Dental and Twin Metals Minnesota. This annual Ely activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, through a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. EWF is also made possible in part by the Donald G. Gardner Humanities Trust.