The Fire and Ice street festival is back this year in Qualicum Beach and the Jolly Roger will be flying at full mast on May 3.
After 21 years, Fire & Ice was cancelled last year due to a lack of volunteers and other forms of support for the event, but this year it is back with a pirate theme and a treasure chest full of activities for the entire family.
Fire and Ice Chair for 2014, Jim Lynch, said they now have a hard-working team in place building on the success of the past twenty years and adding even more culinary choices.
“We are working on a few new things. We are hoping to do a pig roast and fill out some of the blocks that haven’t been as busy at past events,” said Lynch.
In previous years, the Fire & Ice festival attracted more than 5,000 people to the town with the main street closed to traffic and colourful booths set up with up to 25 teams competing in the chili cook-off for the People’s Choice Award.
This year, the chilli teams will be back, but there may be some other spicy food wars where restaurants can battle it out. The NEWS, partnering this year with Thalassa Restuarant, will be back to defend its 2012 People’s Choice Award.
Lynch said the one-year break allowed the Fire and Ice Street Festival Society to restructure and come up with an even better event that will make the whole community proud.
He said the organizing committee spent a lot of time conducting surveys and consulting extensively with local businesses, community organizations, participants and the public to ensure this year’s event will be a success.
He said they are providing more choices and options for both area businesses and visitors to participate in the day’s activities.
“It is still a work in progress but we are excited about where this is going.”
A big change this year will be the end of the messy chili cups people had to walk around with. Instead, visitors can purchase a wrist band for $4 which will allow them to go from team to team sampling all of the food available and voting for their favourite.
The chili contest will be adjudicated by judges, but the people’s choice will be for all of the foods that are served.
The cool side of the festival will see the return of the master ice sculptors, who will use chainsaws and ice picks to create crystalline works of wonder. There will be additional frozen activities including as ice cream making and the family friendly Kids Zone is back.
Juno award winning folk singer Valdy will be the headliner for the entertainment line-up. Local musicians will also be highlighted including Big Twang Theory, Lazy Mike and the Rockin’ Recliners, Island Blue Rose, River Side Blue Grass Band and the Mt. Arrowsmith Pipe Band.
To inspire costumes and ice carving, this year’s theme will be Pirates of Qualicum Beach so all scallywags and buccaneers are invited to surrender the booty and channel their inner Blackbeard Saturday, May 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.