Submitted photo
This wooden elk art sculpture that will be lit for the bonfire on Saturday as part of the Fire and Ice Festival.

The Fire and Ice Festival has returned this year, and with even more fun and excitement than previous years. The weekend will be filled with two days of events, and enough fun for all ages.

Kyle Horvath, director of the Tourism and Recreation Board, explained how he was tasked by several businesses to have a winter festival that was broad and diverse, and spread throughout the community that tied in all these events.

“I wanted this to be a community event,” he said. “My goal was to do something that got the community together, got them out of the house, and do something together.”

Saturday will kick off the weekend of events with the Bristlecone Birkebeiner at Ward Mountain Recreation Area North Trailhead. This year, the Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts added a fat tire bike ride and snow shoe category to the event. There will also be a one-mile ski course for children. Shorty’s Food Truck will also be on sight this at the Birkebeiner.

A full itinerary of events on Saturday includes events such as water volleyball, a dart tournament, bowling tournament, and the Fireworks Train.

Locomotive 93 is celebrating it’s 110th birthday this year. There are two train rides scheduled on Saturday, one at 1 p.m. and the other at 4:30 p.m. The Fireworks Train is one of the train rides you won’t want to miss out on.

The train will launch fireworks off the train at 6 p.m.

“We are celebrating the 10th year of firing fireworks off the back of a moving steam-powered train in Ely Nevada,” said Mark Bassett, president, Nevada Northern Railway Museum.. This all started in celebration of Locomotive 93’s 100th birthday in 2009.

“This year we have added a bonfire near the depot after the train returns. The bonfire is open to the public, This will be an exciting weekend in Ely,”

Once the train arrives back at the train depot, a massive wood sculpture of an Elk constructed by several members of the community will be lit up at a bonfire at the railroad station.

Why an Elk?

Horvath noted he wanted something that was visually stimulating, and had community value.

After the bonfire, you can venture on to the downtown for more events like karaoke and a billiards tournament.

Sunday is full of events as well. Mother Nature has been in full swing this year and has brought perfect weather and temperatures to have a Snow Sculpture Contest.

Horvath said the event was cancelled in previous years because of the weather. “Luckily the weather did cooperate and we are able to do lake events”, Horvath said.

The contest will take place throughout the day as artists carve out their masterpieces from mounds of snow on the lake. Prize money for the Snow Sculpture may set the bar for competition with $1,000 for 1st place, $500 for 2nd place and $300 for 3rd place.

And, if you’re artistic abilities aren’t all that great, you can take in try out a beginner snowshoe hike, enjoy ice skating, try out some ice horseshoes, or play it safe and sled down the hills at the Lake.

Food vendors will be on sight, and the day will end with a fireworks display at 5:30 p.m. The entry fee of $5 to the state park still applies.

You won’t want to sit around at home this weekend there’s too much going on. And, whether you’ll want to stay indoors, or drag out your winter gear and shine up those skis, or skates, the options are limitless.

“Fire and Ice for me is providing a venue for the community to contribute what it wants to contribute,” Horvath said. “It’s a community event, tour and rec has organized it, but all these entities have come together to contribute. Hopefully it will continue to grow.”

For additional information please contact the Tour and Recreation Board at 775-289-2430.