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There's no thawing Jack Frost: organizers say family winterfest set to go in Charlottetown

Jason Martell is one of the many crew members working day and night to get the Outdoor Snow Kingdom ready for the Jack Frost Winterfest at the Charlottetown Event Grounds. Despite the lack of snowfall and mild temperatures, organizers say the festival site will be as good as ever this weekend.
Jason Martell is one of the many crew members working day and night to get the Outdoor Snow Kingdom ready for the Jack Frost Winterfest at the Charlottetown Event Grounds. Despite the lack of snowfall and mild temperatures, organizers say the festival site will be as good as ever this weekend. - Dave Stewart

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Neither rain nor mild temperatures this week is putting a damper on preparations for the 13th annual Jack Frost Winterfest in Charlottetown this weekend.

Organizers said Wednesday everything is ready, everything is in tip-top shape and the festival is a go.

“We’re getting lots of social media inquiries where people are thinking that we’re cancelling; that the event is not going. I’m getting tonnes of people texting me saying ‘we feel so sorry for you’,’’ said Tracey Singleton, event producer.

“We’re actually in very good shape. We’re just kind of waiting out the mild weather. The only thing on our radar that we’re looking at right now is the rain on Friday night and it’s not even supposed to hit until 8 or so.’’

Temperatures were hovering around freezing on Wednesday and were forecast to climb above freezing today and Friday before plummeting under the freezing mark on Saturday and Sunday. So, it’s a matter of making sure everything is covered up and protected from the mild weather, sun, rain and anything else that can interfere with an outdoor event.

“We have 17 ice slides right now. They’re all completely built. They finished them (Tuesday) night in the cold, cold temperatures. They’ve put hay bales on those to insulate (them) and those hay bales will protect them from the mild temperatures that are occurring.’’

Related: Fireworks production returns to Jack Frost Winterfest as part of The Guardian’s Frosty Night

“We are feeling really great about it. it’s happening. We want to assure everybody that we’re doing everything possible. We’ve pulled it off every year so we’ve got a pretty good record.’’

February has been a challenging month for organizers due to the lack of snow and fluctuations between mild and extreme cold temperatures. Over the last week, they’ve been able to truck in the snow required for the tube runs and ice slide bases. Final preparations are now underway with a crew of six people working evenings to make snow. The cannons have also been working overtime to create man-made snow.

“Three of the slides are the larger slides that require large volumes of snow so we’ve trucked in the snow to build those and the other ones are predominantly constructed from the man-made snow and ice. The biggest thing for us is to protect that ice for the sliding,’’ said Singleton.

Patrick Brunet, one of the contractors working on the Outdoor Snow Kingdom at the Charlottetown Event Grounds, said he’s been working on the Jack Frost winter wonderland for each of the past 10 years and learns something new every year.

“In terms of the mild weather we just learn to tarp everything and bury everything in snow,’’ Brunet said. “Right now, all of our walls and all of our sculptural walls are white and they’ll be smooth. Using the cannon man-made snow is another thing. It just stays white. We’ve learned to cover up all the ice slides.’’

As Singleton pointed out, they’re using hay bales this year to keep the ice slides in prime condition for the weekend.

“We’ll build the slide and then we’ll tarp it if the weather is going to be inclement and add some snow for extra.’’

Brunet notes that organizers managed to pull off the festival last year even though the weather hit 14 degrees C on the days leading up to the event.

“Last year was the warmest day in Jack Frost history . . . but we still pulled (it) off,’’ he said. “We are feeling really great about it. it’s happening. We want to assure everybody that we’re doing everything possible. We’ve pulled it off every year so we’ve got a pretty good record.’’

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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