Few things suggest a winter wonderland quite like ice skating. It evokes memories of a simpler time when Christmas was filled with laughter, rosy cheeks, cold noses, and the excitement of winter escapades.
You might think an experience like that can’t be found in our own hometown, but thanks to the imagination of Benton Mayor Tom Farmer and the City of Benton Parks and Recreation, the ice-skating rink is now a reality, bringing some special holiday magic to the downtown area.
“We first started offering the rink in December 2021,” said Stephanie Jones, Director of Parks and Recreation. “It was Mayor Farmer’s idea, and he came up with it because he was really pushing to have more holiday fun in Benton.” Along with the thankful annual sponsorship of Everett Buick • GMC, this attraction is swiftly becoming a mainstay to Saline County’s holiday tradition.
The skating rink is located at the downtown Farmer’s Market in an ideal spot adjacent the downtown square and courthouse. “You can get all of your Christmas shopping done and visit the breathtaking holiday lights at the Saline County Courthouse before visiting us at the rink,” Stephanie said.
Visitors might be surprised to learn there is no actual ice in the skating rink, although it does give off a good impression. “The floor is actually made up of an oil-based plastic,” Stephanie explained. “When the skate blade glides across the rink the friction helps create an ice-like feel. Our maintenance team does an excellent job of installing the rink, which takes anywhere from one to two days, and we are so appreciative of their hard work on the rink for our community.”
While there are no skating lessons offered, there is an all-inclusive skate night that involves skating aides to assist wheelchair users or those with mobile impairment. “If assistance is needed during any night at the rink, all anyone has to do is let our team know and they can get you out on the ice!” Stephanie said.
The Farmer’s Market hosts the local market from April through October. Public rink hours are Dec 1st through the 31st, closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You can even enjoy a “New Year’s Evening” skate from 2:00pm to 4:45pm.
It is open six days a week, Monday-Thursday from 5:00pm to 7:45pm, Saturday from 2:00pm to 8:45pm, and Sunday from 1:00pm to 6:45pm. It is also available for private parties and typically books up within a few days. While some guests bring their own skates, rental skates are available at no extra cost, and admission is $3 per person.
Holiday music will be playing while everyone skates, and although there is no hot chocolate available onsite, Stephanie encourages everyone to stop around town at the local coffee shops and snag a cup of holiday cheer before hitting the rink.
Ice skating has always stood out as a magical experience that captures the very essence of Christmas, whether it’s gliding gracefully on a frozen pond, taking those first wobbly steps, or spinning under the glow of twinkling lights, and Benton is very happy to offer that experience to all who visit the rink.
“Our maintenance department and special events staff does an excellent job preparing the rink, and it is such a unique experience that is affordable for all our Saline County residents and guests,” Stephanie said. “If you can’t purchase a ticket, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about our scholarship program. We want to ensure that everyone can experience the holiday magic the rink brings.”
Mayor Tom Farmer also encourages everyone to come out and experience the 22 Days of Christmas, running December 1st through 22nd. Events include a tree lighting ceremony, the Christmas parade, craft making for kids, Christmas wreath-making with the Saline County Library, a cookie decorating contest, Santa at the Courthouse, letters to Santa, a 5K “Run Run Rudolph” fun run, a chili cookoff, and a wide variety of other holiday themed activities.
“We always want Benton to be known for being a family friendly city where everyone feels at home,” Mayor Farmer said. “The skating rink adds to this philosophy, as well as the friendly attitude of our entire city.
“After the first year of the ice-skating rink and all its popularity, we had to increase its size to accommodate even more of our citizens. It brings joy and happiness to all, whether they are skating themselves or just watching the others enjoy the ‘ice.’ It truly is a great place for the entire community.”
For more information on events at the rink or to reserve a party, contact Benton Parks and Recreation at email@example.com or 501-776-5970.