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Thousands brave cold for winter festival

Thousands of Edmontonians braved the cold to get a taste of Dutch culture at the Silver Skate Festival yesterday.

Thousands of Edmontonians braved the cold to get a taste of Dutch culture at the Silver Skate Festival yesterday.

The festival was founded in 1990 when a group of Dutch Canadian speed skaters joined up with winter triathletes and combined their events.

“From a very participative event, now there is lots of family programming,” said Carol Russ, a 10-year board member and secretary director for the festival.

Russ said it has grown significantly, but visitors to Hawrelak Park can still sample Dutch culinary treats such as pea soup and croquettes.

Some of the programming at the festival included ice dance performances, snowshoe races, a 50-kilometre skate marathon and a Cabane à sucre to make maple taffy.

With grants from Heritage Canada, casino dollars and the help of Winter Light, Russ said this year’s festival has been more successful than those held in previous years.

“It was a banner year, because we had a festival director come on, and he was just dynamic,” she said. “It’s Edmonton, we live in a winter city, you need to be able to come out and enjoy.”

This was Sarah Heacock’s second year coming to the festival which she said is a great opportunity to get outside with younger kids.

“We don’t own skates, so it’s nice to come down, rent some and get to go skating for free.” Aside from the skating, her favourite part of the event was the horse-sled rides.

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