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All-Star Fan Fair attracts thousands

by Kalen Qually / Winnipeg Jets
Downtown Columbus is flooded with a rainbow of NHL jerseys this weekend. From Sharks teal, to Bruins black, and Jets polar night blue. Proudly wearing their team’s colours, hockey fans from near and far found their way to the NHL’s All-Star showcase to see the best the league has to offer.

While awaiting the weekend’s main events on Saturday night and Sunday, there were many activities before and after for fans to take part in. NHL All-Star FanFest at the Greater Columbus Convention Center offered fans the chance to meet their favourite mascots, test their skills in one of many shooting galleries, and get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup. One station even had fans try their accuracy by firing pucks into a stack of washing machines.

At all times during the weekend, young fans were able to interact with the NHL’s mascots. There was even a mascot showdown on Saturday afternoon where all 26 of the NHL’s costumed characters competed in a series of events. At one point, Winnipeg’s Mick E. Moose paired up with the Predators’ Gnash in a three-legged relay race.

Next to Nationwide Arena is the NHL All-Star Winter Park along John H. McConnell Blvd. There, fans can take part in public skating on an outdoor rink or get in line to get take a ride down the Snow Slide. There is also a licensed hospitality tent called the DMG Hockey House with live music throughout the weekend.

The waiting will soon be over for fans anxious to see their favourite players in action during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition tonight at Naitonwide Arena. Not surprisingly, the heavy-shooting Dustin Byfuglien has been recruited by Team Foligno to take part in the Hardest Shot competition. It’s an event he has history in, winning with a measured shot of 104 MPH in the Winnipeg Jets’ first annual Skills Competition in 2011.

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