Free Winterfest Saturday at the Izaak Walton League

Saturday will be filled with fun activities at the Izaak Walton League! While the snow has been spotty this year, the ice on the pond is ready for Winterfest. January 26, from 10:00 to 3:00 the “Ikes” invite you to enjoy their nature center at 5641 Myers Lake Ave. They encourage youth to unplug and reconnect with the great outdoors, with many trails to explore, archery, ice-fishing, skating, and candle-making around a fire.

Something new this year is very old. Asher McLaughlin will demonstrate the art of starting fires without a match. The “bow-drill” method involves spinning a stick with a bow-string, to create a coal in the base wood. Asher will be giving demos throughout the day, with extra sets for you to try, as well as flints and steel. This is a rare chance to get good advice on these techniques, and it’s fun to see what you can do.

The archery targets will be set up, with kids improving their aim under the steady guidance of Bill Skallos. Full-size and youth bows are available.

On the ice… you may skate! They have a few pairs of skates to try if you don’t have your own. Ice-fishing is fun too, just for the kids, catch & release, with bait, equipment, and helpers available.

Around an outdoor fire there’ll be candle-making by dipping a wick into a kettle of wax. It’s a peaceful way to create your own light.

Other activities include shelter-making with pine branches, playing “fox and geese”, and if there’s enough good old-fashioned snow, cross-country skiing. In years past, some beautiful snow castles were built. We’ll have to see what the weather brings, but there are activities for all conditions, including indoors. The lodge will host a bird-feeder craft, and food for you too, with hot dogs and chili at lunchtime.

All of this is free and open to the public on this special day, although donations are very welcome. This non-profit group continues to support good conservation practices, programs, and activities throughout the year. Their big fund-raising auction and banquet will be held March 2, with speaker Robert Hollister talking about his adventures while studying climate in Alaska. Find out more on Saturday. The website is undergoing change, but if you have questions, email georgiadonovanart@gmail.com.

Saturday is a good chance to explore the Izaak Walton League’s local chapter and make friends. It’s just a half-mile north of Cannonsburg Ski area. Carpool if you can!