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Big Freeze Winter Festival Logo

2023 Big Freeze Winter Festival

Friday February 17th 2023 - Saturday February 18th 2023

Ruth Butler Building, UP State Fairgrounds
2401 12th Ave N Escanaba, MI


Cost:  See website for prices!

Web:  click/tap

It’s happening again, BUT BIGGER! 
Visit Escanaba launches 2nd annual ice fishing event, in the world’s Walleye Capital (Feb. 17- 18, 2023)

This year, The Big Freeze has expanded from an ice fishing derby into a 2 day winter festival and fundraiser event! 

Friday February 17th from 5-8PM (EST) in the Ruth Butler Building:
This fun-filled weekend starts with the “Fire & Ice" themed warm-up party!
There will be a chili cook-off, live music, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, games, photo booths, a live ice carving performance by Food Network Star Randy Finch, beer from Upper Hand Brewery, plus a chili cook-off with all the fixings included!

$20 Adult
$10 Children 8-12
FREE Children under 8

Check-in for the ice fishing derby will also be held on Friday night at the Ruth Butler Building.
Anglers will be required to register & pay ahead of time, using the FishDonkey App.
The $89 entry fee will include admission to “Fire & Ice Night: Chili Cook-Off & DCSAR Fundraiser,” an event hoodie, an official Big Freeze bump board, a wristband, opportunity to win prizes (including door prizes & wildcards), plus a meal & beverage ticket for Saturday’s catered dinner.
Contestants will also be required to sign a waiver at check-in (all participants under 18 will need a parent/guardian signature as well).

Saturday February 18th from 4AM-2PM (EST):
On Saturday morning, the ice fishing derby opens up bright and early at 4 a.m. and competitors are free to fish anywhere within the derby’s boundary waters.
Using the FishDonkey app, fishermen will upload photos of their catch and can follow the competition’s live leaderboards.
The bigger the fish, the better chance they have at winning more prizes.
**A special fishermen’s dinner will be catered at 3PM in the Ruth Butler Building & the prize ceremony will follow.
Competitors MUST BE PRESENT to claim prizes!

Saturday February 18th from 12-6PM (EST) in the Ruth Butler Building:
There will also be plenty of other fun on-shore activities throughout the day!
Canvas Painting Class: 12 PM
Kid’s Crafts: 1 PM
Relay Races/Games: 2 PM
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides: 3-6 PM
There will also be a bounce house & photo booth. We will end the night with a campfire, s'mores, & hot cocoa!

FREE Admission
$20 Canvas Painting Class 

The Big Freeze is a fundraiser for Delta County Search and Rescue.

Three simple steps to register for the fishing derby:
1) Get the FishDonkey App on your smartphone
2) Make an account
3) Search "The 2nd Annual Big Freeze"

2023 Big Freeze Fest Poster2023 Big Freeze Fishing Poster

Annual events in Escanaba

Are you uncertain when to plan your trip to the Bays de Noc? Check out some of our popular annual events and come during your favorite! 

Rapid River Relic Ride

Each year, this vintage snowmobile ride, show and swap happens in the last weekend of January. Do you have an older sled yourself? Come join the fun! The group also makes announcements on their Facebook page

The Big Freeze Ice Fishing Derby

In February, this ice fishing derby invites anglers to the Walleye capital of the world. The bigger your catch, the better the prize! Find updated information as the event nears on our Big Freeze Ice Fishing Derby page

Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day Celebrations

Spend your long weekend in the Bays de Noc and celebrate our country with us! Plan for parades, picnics, live music, fireworks, food and more. Search the event calendar for these specific weekends to find each municipality’s plans. 

Kruisin' Klassics

As June approaches, the classic cars cruise into the Bays for the Kruisin’ Klassics Car Show and Swap Meet at the U.P. State Fair Grounds. Peruse the vehicles on display, see who wins best in show awards, test your own speed in a fun run and stick around for the grand finale — a parade!

Fayette Heritage Days

This August event at Fayette Historic State Park and Townsite celebrates the “hey-day” of Fayette as a bustling iron smelting town. Activities include period displays, food, music and a historic baseball game —1860’s style. And you will be invited to play! 

U.P. State Fair 

Since 1928, the Upper Peninsula State Fair has delighted folks from all over as they experience and celebrate the unique culture of Michigan’s U.P. It’s seven days of thrilling rides, enthralling grandstand shows and lots of blue ribbon fun. 

Yooper Fest

Celebrating Yoopers! Each September, join others on Ludington Street in downtown Escanaba as they visit vendors, play games, eat delicious food and enjoy live music and more. 

Holiday Events

Plan your winter trip around these annual holiday events

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