Warren County Winterfest may be several weeks away, but members of the Executive Committee have been hard at work since July. New additions, re-introductions, and changes in venues are just a few of the things that Chairwoman Sharon Miller and her team have been busy with.
"It's going to be a great year," said Miller, "all we need is snow."
The three-day event has become a long-standing tradition for Warren County, drawing in spectators and participants from well outside the area. One of the main events, the mid-distance sled dog race, attracts racers from around the area and as far as Michigan, according to Ed Atwood who is in charge of the event. Atwood has been involved with the sled dog races in one way or another since their inception back in 1979.
Times Observer photo by Brian Collins
Sharon Miller, Ed Atwood, and Walt Atwood prepare for the first annual outhouse race that debuts this January at the Warren County Winterfest. Outhouse racing originated in Alaska and has spread throughout the country.
Additions to Winterfest this year include outhouse races, horse-drawn trolleys, and the re-introduction of toboggan and innertube races. To accommodate for the new events and a steep increase in the amount of entrants in the sled dog races, changes to the starting lines have been planned. "There's too much going on in the same place," added Atwood, "we need to spread things out a bit."
The new outhouse races will feature five-person teams in an event that originated in Alaska and has spread throughout the country. "They even have these races in Florida," laughed Miller, "they just do them on wheels instead of skis." Teams must construct their own outhouse in accordance with the specifications provided when they sign up.
One of the events, Ski-joring, is a race in which the skier is pulled by a dog through a lengthy course. The event this year will be dedicated to "Rocky," a ski-joring dog who was killed by a car in February. He led Warren County's own Wanda Verga through several competitions and will be greatly missed as the race begins this year.
In addition to all of the events, the new skating pond, donated last year by Richardson Landscape's soup kitchen, will be open again by the nature center. Proceeds from the sale of homemade soups along with those donated by Chiodo's Ferro Cuccina, Liberty Street Cafe, and Clarendon Cafe enabled Miller and her committee to create this attraction. The skating shelter, built by Ray Nordin and donated by Cochran and Zandi, will also be open for use.
The next Winterfest Committee meeting will be held at the Fraternal Order of Eagles on Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. and is open to the general public. Those who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to attend the event. "We hope that it's a big success and to keep it a free event. In order to do so, we rely on donations and volunteers," Miller added.
Anyone interested in donating, volunteering, or signing up for one of the events should contact Sharon Miller at 814-726-1947