What’s News? Cripple Creek Ice Fest Iced For 2021/Teller Taken to Stage One Fire Ban

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Cripple Creek Ice Fest Iced For 2021

Rick Langenberg


In another blow to fans of special events and festivals in Cripple Creek, the annual Ice Fest, one of the more popular winter galas in the state of Colorado, has received the axe for next year.


The action, while disappointing, isn’t that unexpected. The city council had  iced all monies for special events next year, except for their July 4th celebration. The  main culprit was the unsure situation due to the coronavirus epidemic, which heavily restricts gatherings.


Based on a  press release from the city, the decision was made by the  Cripple Creek Ice Fest Committee.  The Cripple Creek Ice Festival was scheduled early next year from February 6-14.


According to city officials, the event has been an iconic winter activity in the Pikes Peak region for many years and draws up to 20,000 people. Several ice carving teams work with up to 130, 300 hundred-pound blocks of ice to create astonishing works of art. Just last year a cash purse was offered, and visitors were able to vote for their favorite display, which added to the fun and excitement of the event.


“The COVID numbers and unknown behavior of the virus, along with concerns for the health, safety and wellbeing of the citizens, workers, service providers, and visitors to our community were the underlying factors in the committee’s decision,” noted Cripple Creek Marketing and Events Director, Jeff Mosher.


Mosher stated that the committee recognized the significant impact the event has on the revenue stream for the businesses in town.  However, he explained they are also acutely aware of what a large outbreak could cause and the impact that would have on the residents and reputation of the city.


“The committee also hoped to pull off the event to provide a break from the stress of the current situation, but it was not meant to me,” added Mosher. “The decision to cancel was not made easily and the committee was greatly saddened that the event will not be held in 2021. The committee hopes that the event can return bigger, better, and more exciting in 2022.”


Even with this decision, the committee members have made it clear that the annual festival is far from dead. In fact, the Cripple Creek Ice Fest has received top accolades as one of the city’s most popular festivals. It also is one event that has achieved much cooperation between the city and local casinos.


The event hit a wall, with an earlier decision by the council not to allocate any monies for special events, other than to offer help with such details as road closures and certain services.  In past years, the city invested more than $50,000 into the event.


The city’s annual budget for 2021 is the smallest in 25 years, with huge cuts in marketing, special events, parks and recreation and capital projects.  About the only agencies not to face the city budget axe were those involving essential services.


Another big concern is the rising number of coronavirus cases in the county.  According to Cripple Creek Finance Director Paul Harris, who serves on the coronavirus task force, the COVID-19 positive numbers for the county spiked by 400-plus percent in the month of November


Luckily, this trend of soaring cases hasn’t originated much from Cripple Creek, with the district only generating about 5 percent of the total case load.



Teller Taken to Stage One Fire Ban

Rick Langenberg


With the cold weather and occasional moisture, Teller County now faces less fire restrictions.


And for the first time in months, outdoor smoking and outdoor barbecues (with charcoal grills) under cautionary conditions, are allowed.


Last week, the Teller County commissioners approved a resolution, moving the county to Stage One fire designation rules.  These restrictions are not quite as onerous as Stage Two, and mainly just prohibit open campfires, explosives, fireworks and trash burning. The Stage Two designation, which Teller encountered for much of the summer and fall, imposes strict burning rules.


Don Angell, the director of the county’s office of emergency management, stressed that the overall moisture levels are still low in the region, but the criteria calls for a Stage One designation “We are lowering the restrictions to some degree,” said Angell, at last week’s regular meeting.


Angell said the new rules follow steps taken by the U.S. Forest Service.


The commissioners had no problem with the changes, but asked how they complied with state regulations.


“We are working with the governor’s orders,” said Angell.


Commission Chairman Marc Dettenrieder raised a slight concern about how these rules would impact the removal of slash material at the Divide site, which offers some opportunities for residents to partake in tree and vegetation-thinning on their properties.


Angell stated this material could be burned under his direct supervision, if weather permitted. Even with lower restrictions, the emergency management chief reminded the board of the current drought situation throughout most of the state, citing several recent fires in the area.