No reason for winter boredom in Ely

The flu bug is going around and the ever-present snow removal trucks around town reaffirm that Mother Nature has packed a punch this winter.
And while temperatures have moderated and even threaten to climb over the freezing mark this week - we nonetheless remain in the clutches of a winter that even in a perfect scenario has at least two months to go.
So let’s make the most of it.
Once again this year, organizers and volunteers have made sure there are no shortage of activities for us to get out of the house, fight that cabin fever and enjoy what the Ely area has to offer.
We find it hard to believe that many, if any, communities of Ely’s size have as much going on to beat the mid-winter blahs.
It starts this weekend with the Fun Run.
Now in its 20th year, the event appeals to snowmobilers and those who don’t even own a sled.
Get out to the checkpoints in Ely, Babbitt and Tower and be sure to get to Fortune Bay Saturday night. There’s a good chance you’ll go home with a prize, perhaps several, and the event offers fun for young and old.
We also welcome those in town for the Northland 300 Snowmobile Rally, which raises money for raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota and brings people to Ely at a time when we need it the most. Hats off to those taking part or helping to put on this wonderful event.
If you were lucky enough to secure a ticket, why not check out Ely’s Historic State Theater this weekend.
The curtain opens for The Quiltmaker’s Gift, with four performances set throughout the weekend.
Tickets have been so coveted for this event we wouldn’t be surprised to see ticket scalpers outside the renovated and restored theater, which has new life after sitting dormant for almost a decade.
One can’t step inside the theater and not be impressed with the restoration overseen by developer Tanner Ott, and the labors of love by a nonprofit group that has taken over theater operations.
If you can’t get a ticket for this weekend’s plays don’t worry. Plans call for movies and other events yet this year.
But Ely’s winter festivities aren’t limited to just one weekend.
February brings the Ely Winter Festival and all of its associated events.
The giant blocks of snow are up at Whiteside Park and it won’t be long before those are turned into artistic masterpieces that draw the attention of locals - and those who drive from hours away to check out the town and the winter party.
Downtown will become an art gallery for the annual Ely ArtWalk, a staple of the winter festival.
The winter festival calendar offers a potpourri of offerings, from Folk School courses to a fish fry, a candlelight ski, snowshoeing events and even a Lumberjack and Jill Party.
There are concerts, a fundraising dinner and even the return of the Great Nordic Beardfest - back after a brief hiatus.
Youth hockey players and parents will come to Ely by the hundreds the weekend of Feb. 7-8 for the Ely Blue Line’s Mini/Mite Howler Jamboree.
Speaking of sports, the high school winter sports season heads into its home stretch the next few weeks. Stop inside the high school gymnasium or the Ely Arena for a plethora of home games, and Hidden Valley will be home next Saturday (Feb. 1) to hundreds of skiers for the Nordic Wolves’ lone home meet of the regular season.
Later in February, Ely goes to the dogs for the running of the WolfTrack Classic. Put on an extra layer and head out to the softball complex as Ely hearkens back to the days of the All-American Sled Dog Races with a new era of mushing.
Looking for something to do? Try out a fat tire bike or rent a pair of skis or snowshoes or better yet, find a spot to drill a hole in the ice and catch the big one. Even beyond the scheduled slate of events, there are chances to mush, ski and of course snowmobile and enjoy Ely and its beautiful surroundings.
It’s winter. Let’s make the most of it!