Up in arms

Prince Albert Winter Festival president Barry Mihilewicz, pictured during Monday’s media conference, said they’re exciting to bring back an old Prince Albert tradition: arm wrestling. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

After a long hiatus, one of Prince Albert’s more robust Winter Festival traditions will make a return to Prince Albert.

For the first time in two decades, the annual arm wrestling competition is back on the Winter Festival schedule. For festival president Barry Mihilewicz and the organizing committee, it’s an exciting return for a long missed event.

“I couldn’t even tell you,” Mihilewicz chuckled when asked about the last Winter Festival arm wrestling competition. “I can’t remember the last time. You’d almost have to look back into the archives. I think it’s almost been 20 years.”

Mihilewicz said the committee looked to the past to try and spruce up the 2018 event. Traditionally, they partner with the Saskatchewan Arm Wrestling Association (SAWA) to put on the competition, and that will be the case again in 2018.

The organization recently held an event in Shellbrook over the summer, and they jumped at the opportunity to get back into the Winter Festival circuit.

“When I called and suggested that we’d be interested in having them, (the SAWA) was overjoyed and it turned out they had space in their schedule for Jan. 24, so we’re doing to do it and I think it’s going to be kind of a cool thing,” Mihilewicz explained. “There’s going to be some nostalgia.”

Winter Festival traditions have come and gone over the years, and Mihilewicz is confident this return will be successful. He said it’s vital to look forward and find new ways to stay connected with the community, but not to the point where the committee loses track of what has worked in the past.

“Some of the (past) things we’re just not going to do,” Mihilewicz said. “We’re not going to ever have car racing on an oval on the ice like they used to have, for certain obvious reasons, but we’re looking back to some of the things that used to happen at the Winter Festival that people really liked (and) one of them would be the arm wrestling.”

With the 2018 schedule settled, the only thing left to do is hope and pray for good weather. Last year, above average February temperatures saw the cancelation of several major attractions, such as the Canadian Sled Dog Challenge. Other events, like the snow sculpting competition, have been cancelled multiple years in a row.

When it comes to weather, Mihilewicz said they do the best they can with what they have, but he’s hoping this year they get a bit of a break.

“I’d like to see a good foot, foot and a half in January and then none of this melting weather,” he said. “We need some cooperation from the weather man, for sure.”

@kerr_jas • jason.kerr@paherald.sk.ca