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Survivalist competition returns to Sundre Winterfest

Lots to see and do in Sundre on Family Day long weekend at museum, Greenwood Campground and around town

SUNDRE – There are going to be plenty of things to see and do over the Family Day long weekend that will be winding up with the third edition of the Mountain Survivalist Competition.

Sundre Winterfest activities are lined up largely at the Sundre & District Museum as well as the nearby riverside Greenwood Campground and community gazebo, where eight backlit ice sculptures will be on display with optimal ambience for viewing once it’s dark.

Wagon rides available at no cost will shuttle families back and forth between the two locations.

While the municipality and the museum spearheaded the organizational effort, Winterfest is the result of a community collaboration including organizations like the Sundre Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society, the Sundre & District Chamber of Commerce, the Sundre Bike n’ Ski Club as well as Main Avenue Fellowship and numerous business sponsors.

It all takes place on Sunday and Monday Feb. 19-20.  

“There are two key areas of this event: one at the museum and one near the gazebo,” said Jon Allan, Sundre’s economic development officer and an event organizer.

“There will be other events outside of our historic riverside area though as well,” he added.

Music will be playing at the gazebo where complementary hot chocolate will also be served so people can sip away and keep warm while checking out the ice sculptures made by Rocky View County artists Lee and Jana Ross.

The campground will also be hosting the survivalist competition, which takes place Feb. 20. Dave Holder, lead survival consultant of History TV’s series Alone, is returning for the third time as a judge for the event alongside wife Brenda Holder, who is also the owner of Mahikan Trails.   

Contenders were as of late January still being sought out, with room for a maximum of nine teams of two people. The event will break down into three heats with three teams going face-to-face as they race against time to build a functional shelter using limited tools and supplies as well as start a fire without any matches.

To boot, the fire needs to burn well and long enough to boil up water to make tea and hard boiled eggs. A new element to this year’s competition is an added challenge to create a snare.

The three heats will determine which teams end up going head-to-head in the championship that will also include a final, surprise skills challenge.

Aside from bragging rights, the winners will receive handcrafted custom-made items and have their names inscribed onto a new trophy that for posterity’s sake will record and track the Mountain Survivalist Competition’s champions over the years to come.

Over at the museum, there will also be some music playing and people will courtesy of Kokum’s Cree-ations have a chance to sample fried bannock bread at the historic Ranger Station.

Across the street at the Sundre Elks Lodge No. 338 hall, the Main Avenue Fellowship will on Feb. 20 be organizing and hosting a variety of free children’s activities.

On the evening prior, Todd Dalke will be tapping into his tech-savvy abilities to feature a yet-determined family-friendly movie at no cost to attend.

On both Feb. 19 and 20, the Sundre Bike n’ Ski Club will in partnership with Ride n Glide Adventure Rentals be offering free lessons and equipment rentals at Greenwood Campground.

Just across the Red Deer River bridge on the east side of town, there will also be Indigenous medicine tours that courtesy of Mahikan Trails will take participants along to the completed portions of the interpretative nature boardwalk through the wooded area behind the Visitor Information Centre. Those who are interested in joining will need to book in advance to reserve a spot.

And on Feb. 19, the Sundre Arena will be available to the community for a free skate.

There was as of late January still the possibility of even more to come.

“We’re just looking into some final activities that may or may not be possible,” he said. “So, we invite people to stay tuned.”

Check the Explore Sundre and the museum’s social media pages or visit for more information or to register for the mountain survivalist championship or the medicine walk.

Allan expressed appreciation to all of the community groups that partnered up and pitched in and added that Sundre Winterfest would not be possible without their help or the financial contributions from corporate sponsors.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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