Rochester readies for festival

Students and families looking for free fun this weekend can head to downtown Rochester.

The Fire and Ice Festival in Rochester is scheduled on Friday, Jan. 29 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 30 from noon – 9 p.m.

The festival offers opportunities for people of all ages. Popular events at the festival include ice sculpting shows, ice skating, ice carving demonstrations, horse-drawn carriage rides, a scavenger hunt, dogsled demos and rides, snowman and snow angel making, Broom Ball demonstrations and a shopping extravaganza. Most events are free.

 “It was a goal to make it affordable for everyone,” said Stacey Keast, DDA event coordinator. “Everything but the TasteFest is free. I think the highest priced item for that is about $7.” 

A spaghetti dinner during the festival is also a paid event, but it is a fundraiser for the Rochester Area Youth Association. Adults get in for $8 and kids for $4.

 This is the third year the festival has taken place. Even though it’s a local event, it draws large crowds from all over. 

“We had around 20,000 to 25,000 people come out last year,” Keast said. 

Even though the economy is down, she thinks attendance will remain steady. 

“It’s a great way to get out and enjoy winter for all its worth,” Keast said. “We have so many different activities going on; there really is something for everybody.”

The event she thinks tends to draw the most attention to the Fire and Ice festival is the firework display.

“Most people don’t get to experience fireworks in winter,” Keast said. “We also have a tubing hill this year instead of just a toboggan hill, which we anticipate will be a popular event.”

For those who prefer to not participate in winter activities, there are other events to enjoy at the festival.

 The TasteFest, which includes a variety of cuisine from local vendors, takes place all weekend. This year is the first time the TasteFest will also feature alcohol selections.

In conjunction with the festival, local stores are offering a shopping extravaganza, in which they will have several special deals. There is also the Big, Bright Lights Show, which is a holiday light display throughout downtown Rochester, made up of about 1.2 million lights. The Big, Bright Lights Trolley will be available to take all those interested through the light displays if they don’t feel like walking it all.

The festival is still looking for volunteers. 

For information or to volunteer, visit the festival’s website at