Sledding into the Chapman Dam Winterfest

By: Shelby Kuzminski

Nothing says winter excitement like the Chapman Dam Winter Fest! The winter festival was held on January 17, 18, and 19. The Squire took a day trip to the dam to see what the festival had in store.

To begin, the festival was held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There were many activities held at the park, such as sledding, dog pulls, food, venders, polar plunge, fishing tournament, ice skating, and skiing. Visitors to the dam will notice that there are two sides of Chapman Dam. Upon arriving at the stop sign, you can either go right or straight. To check out the fun The Squire chose to go straight first. Children were sledding, and making snowmen along the big hill. It was full of laughter and fun all around. Organizers of the event provided warming huts, bathrooms, and changing rooms for the sled riders. Sadly, due to having little to no ice, the ice skating pond was closed to ensure the safety of everyone.

Heading back down the hill to the other side, there was still a lot of fun to have. Across the dam, there was dog sledding and dog pulls. On Friday morning, the dog races took off, traveling over a span of 32 miles to the finish line. On Saturday afternoon, the dogs then moved onto weight pulls. The dogs were hooked up to a sled with bags of sand and then they had to pull the sled to the end. The winner had to pull the most weight. Next, there was a geo-cashing adventure. The starting line was held in the first parking lot, and everyone was given a map and clues to find the hidden treasures. There was also a four-season trivia quest, which comes with a map and lets you explore the park at your own pace, allowing you to get out and get active.

Another big event at Winter Fest is the fishing tournament. In pavilion one was the fishing tournament headquarters. They had trophies and old pictures of past fishermen and their big catches. Since the ice was too thin to even stand on, the fishing was changed to onshore instead of ice. The tournament started on Saturday at 10 A.M. to 2 P.M, and the prizes were awarded at 3 P.M. on Saturday. Observing the dam, there were very few people fishing at all. Hopefully, that lucky fisherman could make a catch of the day and take home first place.

Traveling down the path further, visitors encountered the soup kitchen and food stands. They offered hot chocolate, chicken noodle soup, hot dogs, and many baked goods. There was also a kettle corn stand selling lemonade, kettle corn, and flavored honey. The D.A.V. (Disabled American Veterans) also had a truck to keep warm, and gave away some free merchandise.

Further down was the beach was the polar plunge. Competitors lined up on the snowy beach preparing for the cold water swim. The plunge took place on Saturday at 2 P.M.. There were at least 15 people competing, and, although nobody made it very far, it still raised money for a good cause. Overall, the winter fest was filled with fun activities and endless winter excitement!

The Squire caught up with attendee Jerry Jonson to ask him how he enjoyed the winter fest. Jerry has been attending the winter fest for about ten years now. His favorite memory there was fishing in the fishing tournament. Jerry explained this further, “I do quite a bit of fishing, and even though I’m not too fond of ice fishing, it was a fun new experience that got me into ice fishing actually. I haven’t gotten to take any trophies home, but in the future I hope to take home first place.” Although Jerry didn’t take part in the tournament this year, he says he plans on doing it next year. Jerry also recalls having family sledding parties at the winter fest, “I remember sled riding, and making snowmen for hours with the family. The winter fest has always been an exciting time for me personally and I hope that one day I can create these same memories with my future family.”

While visiting the fest this year, Jerry shared with The Squire that the polar plunge is something nobody can forget. Enthusiastically, Jerry said, “Watching the polar plunge is pure entertainment. Everyone that does it is nuts! There are always some that dress in some pretty interesting outfits. This year a pretty old man even did it, but, hey, he is braver than I am. But never would I try to get into that icy water that’s for sure.” Jerry also shared that he enjoys watching the dog sled races, “The dog sleds are awesome to watch because it is not a sport that is common in this area. So bringing this event to the fest is very cool and brings in some diversity to the area.”

Overall, the winter fest was full of exciting winter fun. If you ever get chance, go and visit this event. The winter fest has something for everyone in your family to enjoy. So get out and enjoy some quality winter fun.

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