There were skeptics who wondered just how many people would turn out on cold blustery afternoon to taste a cold beer and play around outdoor campfires. But skeptics were impressed as more than 800 turned out to do just that and got the kids outdoors on skates and kick sleds. According to Soldotna City Planner John Czarnezki the Frozen River Festival got its start via the Soldotna Economic Development Council. “The Council recognized our brewing industry as a local and regional strength and asset. So we looked for opportunities to help grow the industry and in December 2013, local brewers were invited to meet with the city to solicit their input and needs, and explore options to strengthen their business. The brewers became the nucleus of the Festival organizational committee with lots of festival options and ideas explored and an organizational committee was formed. Rather than have a single entity run the event, a cooperative model was selected that required coordination between the organizational committee, the City and the two non-profits the Kenai Watershed Forum and the Tustumena-200 Sled dog race,” he explained. The proceeds from the event were split between those two non-profit organizations.
“We wanted it to be a family fun event with plenty of activities for kids and with the weather turning cold there was ice skating and kick sledding, archery, ice bowling and of course the kids created all kinds of ways to play in the snow on their own. It was a great success and I’m sure will become an annual event on the Peninsula,” commented Josselyn O’Connor, development director for the KWF. “A big shout of thanks to participating breweries, volunteers and sponsors that included Tesoro, Apache Alaska, ConcoPhillips and Peak Oilfield Services as well all the local businesses who donated goods and services to make this happen. It was a great Alaskan party in the park.”