The Big Freeze returns

Published 10:53 pm Friday, January 31, 2020

The Big Freeze in Albert Lea will move mostly downtown this year, but will feature many of the same winter festivities as in years past.

It will be the 10th year for the event, which is now sponsored by Main Street Albert Lea.

Events kick off with a pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. Feb. 8 at First Lutheran Church, sponsored by Shinefest.

A pop-up shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Outlet, along with various store specials at downtown businesses.

A three-on-three pond hockey tournament, sponsored by TMJ Elite Fitness, is slated to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will have various age divisions. Cost to participate is $50 per team, and prizes will be given out to winning teams.

Snow activities sponsored by the Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Department will run for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Elsa from “Frozen” will be available for pictures from 11 a.m. to noon at Whimzy Toys & Party.

The polar plunge will be from noon to 1 p.m. at City Beach with heated changing tents available for people who decide to take the plunge into Fountain Lake.

Also at noon, a chili cook-off will begin at 112 on Broadway and will run until 2 p.m. Cost is $6 per person — or $5 with a nonperishable food item — or $4 for children 12 and under. Grilled brats, hot dogs, chips, water and hot chocolate will also be available for purchase.

Don’t like chili? A hotdish cook-off will take place from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Albert Lea American Legion for $6 per person or $4 for children 12 and under.

Throughout the day, there will be ice skating on Fountain Lake near the gazebo and sledding at Fountain Lake Park, along with a fat tire bike demo by Broadway Bike Co.

Fishing enthusiasts of any age can test out their luck during the Albert Lea Anglers ice fishing contest from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Cost to participate is $5 per hole. There will be prizes for the largest fish, as well as raffles. People are welcome to bring portable ice shelters.

At Northbridge Mall, the 27th Big Island Rendezvous & Festival Historical Faire will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with over 30 tables of items for sale, including pottery, woodwork, ironwork, art, jewelry, colonial crafts and more.