The theme of any winter in Michigan should be, “Get Out and Recreate, Humans Were Never Meant to Hibernate.” A number of cities and locations are planning annual winter festivals, so get outside and take advantage!
Get outside and explore Michigan’s great outdoors at Bay City State Recreation Area on Saturday, Feb. 18, as the Department of Natural Resources hosts the 19th annual Winter Festival. The annual Winter Festival is offered on the Saturday of Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend and is one of many “Winter Project GO Get Outdoors” special events offered throughout the state for the entire family.
The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The annual Youth Ice Fishing Clinic will kick off the festival. As part of the clinic, participants construct a fishing pole, learn how to rig it, design an ice fishing jig, learn about ice fishing safety and get a few tips on how to ice fish. An ice fishing derby starts at 9:30 a.m. Bait and loaner fishing rods will be provided. Pre‑drilled holes for ice fishing will be offered to all children participating.
Winter Festival will offer activities for all ages, including morning bird hikes and bird-feeding workshop, a “snowball” tournament, live wildlife presentation, snow snake clinic and tournament, ice crystal treasure dig, snowshoe hikes out to the beaver lodge and an evening owl-calling hike. Participants will be eligible for many prizes and trophies awarded throughout the day. The festival is cosponsored by the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club and Frank’s Great Outdoors of Linwood. For a complete schedule, visit the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center page on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/saginawbayvc.
Wow of A Winter In TC
Traverse City’s annual February festival, the Cherry Capital Winter Wow!Fest, began six years ago as a sort of three-ring circus — a sprawling grab-bag of winter games, concerts and other events that were held simultaneously in several different venues.
Since then, Wow!Fest has become a much more organized, user-friendly festival. When it opens this year on President’s Day weekend (Feb. 17-19) almost all of its events and activities will take place along the city’s West Bay shoreline – roughly the same space occupied in July by the city’s signature event, the National Cherry Festival.
Which makes sense, since both festivals are organized and maintained by roughly the same people. Their goal has been to make Winter Wow!Fest a “one-stop” event where people can enjoy themselves all day without having to drive long distances from one venue to another.
“Every year since the beginning we’ve been bringing more of the festival closer to downtown Traverse City,” says National Cherry Festival director Trevor Tkach. “It’s been a natural evolution.
This season’s Wow!Fest will feature several new events – including the Soup’R Chili 5K, where runners will compete on an oval course along the beach, and the “Curb Crusher” Rail Jam, in which snowboarders and skiers will compete on a series of snow-covered 10-foot ramps.
For the first time, several events – such as the popular Snow Ball Co-ed Softball Tournament and snow sculpture competition – will be held in the City’s Festival Open Space Park on West Grand Traverse Bay. Most other activity will be located across the Grandview Parkway at “Celebration Central,” between Cass and Union streets. That’s where the action begins on Friday night with “Winter, Wine & Wow,” a reception featuring local wines, craft brews, edibles and live entertainment in a huge heated tent.
Saturday morning will begin with a more kid-friendly feast — a pancake breakfast in the new ECCO meeting center on Front Street, linked to the festival area by a pedestrian bridge across the Boardman River. The downtown area will continue to be used for a number of Wow!Fest attractions, including a series of popular ice sculptures created by the Ice Brigade (of Food Network fame) and a three-day Presidents Weekend Sale.
Other Saturday events include the Monster Dog Pull (where canine Olympians compete for the title of “monster dog” by pulling weighted sleds), winter versions of popular Cherry Festival competitions like the Frozen Pit Spit contest and the Brain Freeze ice cream eating contest, the uproarious Frozen Bed Race, and the “Soup r’ Bowl” where participants slurp up soups created by local chefs.
Snow for the various snowsport competitions is being provided by Shanty Creek Resorts, which is a little too far from town to be an appropriate festival venue. Even so, the resort is building a “snow park” and tubing hill where families can enjoy the fun of snow-tubing, while local outfitters will be introducing novice skiers and snowshoers to the joys of cold-weather sports.
Competitions that require steeper hills will still be held at the nearby Mt. Holiday Ski Area, including such offbeat competitions as the Friday “Downhill Dash,” a no-holds-barred mountain bike/ski/snowboard race down the ski hill and the “Cardboard Classic” in which competitors must use sleds made only with cardboard, tape and paint.
As always, the festival will end Sunday night with a fireworks display above the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.
“Winter Wow!fest is all about getting out and enjoying some winter fun with friends in our beautiful area,” says Brad Van Dommelen, president of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, one of the festival’s several organizing entities. “We’ve added many new activities this year, and brought back lots of favorites from last winter.”
For a complete listing of events, log on to the festival web site at www.winterwowfest.com.
It’s Women’s Winter Too!
This winter let your hair down, put a hat on and come join in the biggest women’s winter craze! Be one of the hundreds who gather at this year’s host resort: Crystal Mountain Resort to celebrate women, winter and chocolate, Feb. 4-5.
It’s organized by the non-profit Active Women Now, an organization dedicated to helping women make healthy emotional and physical decisions through fun events! Like the Women’s Winter Tour!
“Our motto is: “Gals, you can do anything as long as you have the confidence and believe in yourself”, says organizer Kaye Krapohl.
“This is basically one of the building blocks of the Women’s Tour… discovering winter and building confidence by getting out, making healthy physical and emotional choices for yourself while helping other women in abusive situations. Your entry fee into this event supports local domestic abuse shelters. This event and group is open to all.”
The weekend offers a variety of activities for you to choose from. Pamper yourself by indulging in one of Crystal’s many on-site amenities and help other women by participating in one or both of the Women’s Winter Tour “FUN”raising events the Snowshoe d’ Art on Saturday, or Sunday’s Original Women’s Winter Tour.
There are new courses and activities this year.
Organizers have modified the long course this year and modified the 5k course to include Crystal’s new “Loon Loop”. Shoot to win prizes on a new half km paintball course and a chance to win a weekend getaway to Crystal Mountain.
Women: Be treated like a queen as men “man” the course and serve you a selection of warm goodies at trail-side food stations. Afterward gather with your pals and sample Lil’ Bo Pub and Grille’s Famous Red Pepper Bleu Mac & Cheese, Higher Grounds Coffee, a large selection of soups, artisan bread from Crooked Tree Breadworks, Right Brain Brewery, local wines, Crystal Mountain’s famous White Chili just to name a few of the goodies! TheYellow Truck also will be on-site to serve you during both events.
The Women’s Winter Tour (in honor of Madeleine Thomas) weekend events benefit the local nonprofit Active Women Now, Inc., Madeleine’s House and the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center.
For 14 years, the event has helped to raise over $70,000 for the local Traverse City women’s shelter, Madeleine’s House and other local charities.
On Feb. 24-26, enjoy trailside food throughout northern Michigan during Winter Feast Adventure Weekend, all with the price of a trail pass at participating cross-country ski areas. Just go to www.mywintertrails.com for details.
These are just a few of the events taking place. Others include Plymouth’s Jan 20-22 Ice Sculpture Festival, the Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth, and lots more that celebrate the season in Michigan. Get out and enjoy.