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North Hills Monthly

Cure Cabin Fever at Winterfest

Dec 30, 2015 10:43AM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch

Photo courtesy Teri Whelan

The holidays are over, the new year has begun, and the winter doldrums have set in. Spring is HOW many weeks away?

To get yourself through the seemingly eternal days until the birds return from the south and flowers begin to bloom again, why not check out Winterfest at Moraine State Park? Now in its sixth year, this day-long festival, which will take place on January 16, showcases all of the cold weather treasures that Moraine has to offer.

Many area folks associate Moraine State Park with summer activities, such as boating, biking and camping. But the park has much more to offer, even in the dead of winter.

“There are all kinds of fun things to do in the winter at the park that people don’t realize,” said Jack Cohen, president of Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau, noting that last year the festival drew 5,000 people. Even on the coldest of days, when the temperatures dipped below freezing, the event still brought in more than 3,000 folks.

There is something for everyone of every age, including horse-drawn carriage rides, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and even chainsaw carvers and sawyers, who demonstrate how to cut trees. Dog sleds were another feature at last year’s Winterfest, and Cohen hopes to have them return for this year’s festival.

And what is winter without a piping hot bowl of chili? Last year, 20 entrants participated in the chili cook-off, which will be held again this year. And if chili isn’t enough to warm your bones, there will be bonfires and warming stations set up to take the edge off of that winter chill. There will also be entertainment, crafts for kids and handmade goods for sale.

Winterfest will take place at the McDanel’s Boat Launch on Moraine’s North Shore. “The layout is completely different this year so we can fit in more crafters and add in more parking,” said Cohen.

The event is run by the Moraine Preservation Fund with support from Butler County Tourism. The fund’s mission is to support Moraine State Park’s community stewardship of natural resources, including wildlife restoration projects such as barn owl reintroduction and Project BATitat.