Many ways to enjoy the ice, indoors and outdoors

Published 6:10 am Saturday, November 2, 2019

By Kevin D. Nelson

Austin Parks and Recreation

Some of us have a disdain for winter, while others, including myself, enjoy all of Minnesota’s seasons.

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I recollect having spent many hours of my childhood in the Winona area playing King of the Hill, skating on the frozen lake, playing neighborhood hockey games and sledding (including use a steel runner sled, toboggan and a bobsled). Thankfully, most of these traditions continue today.

Once we’re able to make outdoor ice , we’ll open the neighborhood rinks and warming houses. Outdoor hockey rinks of various sizes will be set up for skills development or pick-up games and practices. The locations will be as follows: Just west of Packer Arena, Galloway (warming house) and Kaufman (warming house). Both places have boards and goals.

A standard rink berm-contained rink (without boards or goals) will be available at Sherman Park (no warming house).

There is also a warming house located at Skinner’s Hill, and this one is for the purpose of serving those who are sledding. Warming house hours will be determined once the season and conditions allow for the related neighborhood recreating.

Indoor winter action at Riverside and Packer Arena

On Nov. 2, from 4-6 p.m. is an opportunity to give curling a try during the open house at Packer Arena. There is a lot of staff prep time involved for curling play, as well as arena operational expense, so a participant fee of $15 will be charged. Those who will be or are considering signing up for league can get in some practice before starting league play on Nov. 9. The league will run on Sunday for six weeks at a cost of $80 per player.

If playing on ice isn’t your deal, then watching the fast action of hockey might be for you. The Austin Bruins host the Minnesota Magicians at 7:05 p.m. tonight in Riverside Arena.

Public Skate events will be offered mostly at Packer Arena for the winter season beginning today. Near future times include:

  • 7:15-8:30 p.m., Wednesday
  • 6:15-7:45 p.m., Thursday.

Stick Time will continue at Riverside or Packer as follows:

  • 4:30-6 p.m., Thursday (Packer Arena)
  • 4-5:30 p.m., Nov. 9 (Riverside)
  • 6:30-7:45 p.m., Nov. 13 (Riverside).

We add times as different opportunities arise, so check our Facebook page regularly for the information.

Facility rental sites

Are you looking for a location to host a family event? The Izaak Walton Cabin is open year-round.

The cabin is also available Monday through Thursday for meetings for $25 per hour plus a security deposit of $150. The weekend rate is $200 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. plus a security deposit of $300. This is a great venue for family gatherings!

Our other great venues, which are also available year-round, are at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center including the Ruby Rupner Auditorium or the Interpretive Center rooms. For more information on the facilities check them out on their website at, and call the Nature Center directly at 507-437-7519 to check availability.

First annual Statewide Star Party

Come be a part of Minnesota’s first annual Statewide Star Party, 7-11 p.m. on Nov. 9, in collaboration with the Bell Museum in St. Paul. Join us for a variety of fun astronomy activities for kids and learn a little something new about the heavens above us. Take an opportunity to peek at the moon and the stars with our telescopes as we celebrate the night sky. You can bring your own telescope, or come look through one of ours! Stop by anytime between 7-11 p.m. out at Sola Fide Observatory. This event is free and open to the public. In the event of poor weather/clouds this event will not be cancelled. It will be moved to the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

Community Gardens

We are glad to offer to the public plots for personal gardening needs and enjoyment. Approximately 90 garden plots are now rented each summer. In order to make this process fair and consistent, some formal rules will likely be implemented prior to the next growing season. Along with this, a deposit may be required, to make certain that all those who do utilize one or more garden plots will abide by said rules, including clean-up of their plot(s) in the fall. Thank you to those who have been helpful and allowed their altruistic sense to guide them in this process to date.