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Wisconsin Churches Offer Free Treats at City Ice Fest

An ice-carved lighthouse was one of 50 sculptures displayed in the town of Waupun, Wisc., for the city’s first Ice Fest.

First Christian Reformed Church in Waupun, Wisc., participated in that city’s first annual Ice Fest on Feb. 17 and 18. The church outreach team, led by Mike Vander Berg, joined with four other area organizations to run a free warming station for visitors enjoying the community event.

The station was inside Main Street Bistro, which allowed the ministries to use the space free of charge. Volunteers from three churches, a men’s ministry, and a pregnancy resource center shared hot chocolate, mini donuts, and other small desserts while engaging community members in conversation. The goal, according to Vander Berg, was “to show acts of kindness to the community while collaborating with other churches and organizations rather than competing with them.” All other stations participating in Ice Fest charged for food and beverages.

About 200 community members came through the station that Saturday, Vander Berg estimated.

The City of Waupun, population 11,500, created this weekend festival to draw tourists and to encourage residents to get outside and enjoy winter. Fifty ice sculptures were carved by a contracted company and set out around the town. The two-day event included wagon-drawn ice sculpture tours, live music, contests, scavenger hunts, and ice skating.

Waupun CRC chose a lighthouse as their representative sculpture, which was placed just outside the bistro.

This event is one of several outreach opportunities for Waupun CRC. Church volunteers also host an annual block party, car wash and bratwurst fry, and live nativity. “We are reaching out to community members who don’t have a home church or who may have a negative view of churches in general in order to show them love and simply engage with them,” said Vander Berg.

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