In a frigid January the Twin Ports found solace and community in the annual Lake Superior Ice Festival. The event hosted on Jan. 28-29 provided visitors of all ages with a variety of activities on the ice of the big lake.
Featured were live ice carvings, hot air balloon rides, an ice carousel, ice racing, and live ice music.
Linda Cadotte, director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for the City of Superior, explains the uniqueness of the Ice Festival.
“Kubb, it’s not a winter sport right? It’s a lawn sport! But we have a kubb tournament in the winter on the ice!”
“The NASCAR drivers that were here never even drove on ice before, what an experience for them! Who else gets to play mini golf on a snowbank? It was just a cool compilation of a lot of things that we can say, ‘we can do that in the winter too.’”
The ice-covered lake was the perfect location for attendees to safely gather and experience Superior’s hospitality amidst the pandemic.
“I think in many ways people feel safer outdoors versus being in a tight closed space… All in all I think people appreciated having something positive and fun to do during a time where otherwise a lot of things… are being canceled,” Cadotte says.
One of the new additions to this year’s Ice Festival was the live ice musical performance. Dr. Brett Jones, Chair of the University of Wisconsin-Superior Music Department, describes how the event came to fruition.
“Linda Cadotte reached out to me last spring with the idea of adding some sort of ice music concert to the festival. I’ve been viewing some ice performances online over the past few years, and I thought it was possible because we live in such a unique place. I’ve done some compositions to try to capture sounds of nature, but I was like ‘someday I want to perform on ice.’”
Dr. Jones worked with Paul Salmon, who crafted the intricate sculptures located outside local businesses across Superior, to ensure the musical performance would have all the necessary components of a percussion ensemble.
“We had a bass, we had our tenor drum sound, a xylophone, and some shakers. And then I brought a couple more natural instruments to supplement the ice. It was just super fun, sometimes with gigs you’re nervous when you’re performing but with this, we all thought, ‘we’re playing on ice, we’re just going to have a good time!’”
Playing alongside Dr. Jones was Dr. Henry Eichman of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Dr. Jeremy Craycraft of St. Scholastica, and UW-Superior alumni Cory Coffman and Johnny Erickson.
A sample of the live ice performance can be found by searching “Ice Music: Lake Superior Ice Festival Performance 2022” on YouTube.
Cadotte estimates there could have been anywhere from seen to ten thousand attendees, but it wasn’t the number of people that made the event a success for her.
“Just seeing all of that preparation and kind of a random idea stick and turn out better than you could imagine is something that I really appreciate about the willingness of our community, to do something different, to take those risks and just thrive with the success of it.”