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On Walkabout At: The 2014 Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Basic Information

  • What: Ice Festival
  • Where: Cripple Creek, Colorado
  • When: February 14-23, 2014
  • Cost: Free
  • More Information: VisitCrippleCreek.com

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Narrative

Back in February the historic gold mining town of Cripple Creek hosted its annual Ice Festival.  My wife and I were looking for something to do that weekend and figured the festival may be fun for our kids since the theme for this year was cartoon characters.  So we made the hour drive up to Cripple Creek from Colorado Springs and were lucky to have incredibly warm weather.  The temperatures were in the 30s which is down right tropical by February in Cripple Creek standards.  Below is the always spectacular view of Cripple Creek backdropped by the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the Highway 67 overlook just outside of town:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

We drove into Cripple Creek and were lucky to get a great parking spot at the train depot located near downtown.  At the parking lot there is a small visitor center that has a statue of Winfield Scott Stratton who made a fortune during the gold mining boom in Cripple Creek in the late 1800’s:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Stratton is well remembered in both Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek for his generosity.  For example in 1896 after Cripple Creek was burned down by a tragic fire Stratton sent a train filled with tents, supplies, and food to the struggling people of Cripple Creek to help them recover from the fire.  Much more about the history of Cripple Creek can be learned by stopping by the Cripple Creek District Museum that used to be the old railway station in Cripple Creek:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

From the parking area we walked over to downtown and passed by the below trading post which is one of the few wooden buildings in Cripple Creek to survive the 1896 fire:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

As we walked into downtown Cripple Creek the vast majority of the buildings are made of brick which was a direct result of the 1896 fire:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

This was seen as a common sense fire prevention measure which obviously has been a success since the buildings are still standing today.  The city had closed off the entire downtown area to traffic and hosted the festival right in the middle of town.  As we walked towards the Ice Festival we passed a number of vending booth that were set up by various merchants.  The vending booths actually sold some interesting items that my wife and I bought a few of.  The closer we got to the Ice Festival though the bigger the crowds became:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

The place was absolutely packed with the crowds made worse by the fact a large beer garden tent was set up in the middle of the festival which took up half the road and caused a bottleneck.  The tent and its accompanying bottleneck can be seen in the below picture:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

The bottleneck was difficult to walk through especially for someone like me pushing my one-year old in a baby stroller.  This tent also caused a large number of stumbling drunk people right in the middle of the festival.  Why the beer garden tent was not setup at the end of the road where it would not create a bottleneck is a mystery to me.  This bottleneck made it nearly impossible to see the ice sculptures near the tent because of the thick crowds.  So we just did not see those and instead walk over to the more easily accessed ones.  The sculptures we were able to see though were pretty cool.  The artists that carved them are obviously very talented.  Here is one of the genie from Aladdin:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

There were plenty of other Disney characters on display to include of course Mickey Mouse:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Definitely the most popular sculpture was of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine that people could open the door of and take pictures of themselves inside of it:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Of course there were sculptures of Scooby Doo and Shaggy as well:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

There was even a sculpture of one of the ghosts that chases around Scooby Doo:

Picture from Cripple Creek Ice Festival

Conclusion

Overall my family and I found the Ice Festival to be okay, nothing great.  It seemed like the Ice Festival was used more or less to give people an excuse to come up to Cripple Creek to get drunk.  The drinking tent in the middle of the festival that hampered movement and the number of stumbling drunks did not make for the best family environment.  We won’t be back next year, but for those without kids looking for an excuse to have a good time in Cripple Creek next winter, the Ice Festival may be worth checking out.

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