2016-01-14 / Front Page

Mackinaw City Hosts Winterfest This Week

By Erich T. Doerr

Mackinaw City will host its 23rd annual Winterfest celebration from Thursday, January 14 through Sunday, January 17, with most events taking place Saturday, January 16, featuring everything from a chili cook-off and outdoor games to the popular annual outhouse races.

The Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce leads in organizing the event with the assistance of its ambassadors, numerous volunteers, and community businesses.

The Mackinaw Pepsi International Outhouse Race is a crowd favorite event, drawing many spectators to the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry parking lot near Lake Huron. The action will start at 2 p.m. with a parade of the entered outhouses before the races begin afterward. Cash prizes and trophies are awarded to the winners.

Chamber Administrator Kelly Vieau, who has had an active role in setting up Winterfest this year, said, “It’s fun to watch them slip and slide pushing an outhouse... It’s always really funny.”

Each racing outhouse will need a five-person team with one rider and four people to push or pull it. The outhouses entered in the race often have wild themes, with past entries themed to resemble lighthouses, flamingos, or giant drink containers. Information about entering an outhouse in this year’s race can be found online at www.mackinawouthouserace.com.

Gary Engle of G-Man Entertainment will provide music and commentary for the races. A racer’s reception at the Dixie Saloon will precede the race Friday night, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., including a disc jockey and dancing. The Dixie also will host a similar event Saturday night, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Several of the activities at this year’s Winterfest are free, such as watching the outhouse races and viewing the art show, but others will require the purchase of a $3 Winterfest button. Many businesses throughout Mackinaw City are selling the buttons, including Marshall’s Fudge, Audie’s Restaurant, Mackinaw IGA, Seasons of Mackinaw, B.C. Pizza, the Dixie Saloon, and the Keyhole Bar and Grill. All of the buttons are numbered for a drawing Saturday offering cash prizes ranging from $2 to $20 in value. The winning numbers will be posted at B.C. Pizza at 11 a.m. Saturday with winners required to claim their envelopes by 3 p.m.

Promotions for the festival will begin on Thursday as a number of local stores and restaurants will offer sales and discounts in relation to the event.

The Mackinaw Area Public Library will hold an Antique Book Sale and Book Swap in conjunction with the festival, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The sale will feature a selection of older books, books about Michigan topics, and Life magazines.

The Mackinaw City Area Arts Council will host an art show throughout the weekend at the Mackinaw Clothing and Sportswear store on East Central Avenue. The show will include the work of local painters, photographers, woodcarvers, potters, and jewelry makers in addition to the winners of the 2016 Winterfest children’s poster contest. The show will be open from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Friday’s display will include a reception with a chance to meet several of the featured artists.

The Poker Walk will include about 20 businesses this year. It will take place from 10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. with B.C. Pizza acting as the event’s headquarters. Those who enter the contest will travel to businesses throughout the village to build the best poker hand they can. The winning hands will be announced at 1:30 p.m. and contestants must be present to win.

The chili cook-off will be held at Mama Mia’s Pizzeria, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public chili tasting will take place before the Chamber of Commerce’s ambassadors host an awards ceremony capping off the cook-off at 12:35 p.m. Those who wish to taste the chili and vote for the people’s choice awards will need to have a Winterfest button. The contest rules and entry form are available on the Chamber’s Web site, www.mackinawchamber.com.

Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides will take place downtown, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with boarding at the Marshall’s Fudge store. Ms. Vieau said the sleigh rides are always a popular feature of the festival. The ride requires the purchase of a Winterfest button.

The outdoor games will run from 11:15 a.m. to noon and include fun events for individuals of all ages. They will take place in the open area next to the Arnold Transit Company’s East Central Avenue ticket office. Prizes will be awarded following the games.

The festival’s Euchre Tournament will take place this year at the Wawatam Area Senior Center on Cedar Street. The tournament will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone age 18 or older may enter the tournament for a $5 entry fee if they possess a Winterfest pin. Registration for the tournament will begin at 11 a.m.

Mackinaw City’s American Legion Post 159 will be open to the open to the public Saturday to serve as a warming house during the day’s festivities, including free hot cocoa and coffee for button holders. The post will stay open Saturday night with live music from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Audie’s Black Tie Scholarship Ball will wrap up Saturday’s activities. It will take place at the North Nicolet Street restaurant, from 8 p.m. to midnight, as a fundraising event for its scholarship to help local high school students. The event will include a cocktail reception, hors d’oeuvres, live music, and a silent auction featuring items donated by several local businesses. The theme of this year’s ball will be “An Evening in Wonderland.”

One event scheduled for this year’s Winterfest will be dependent on weather leading up to the event, the snow sculpting competition. If there is enough snow for the sculpting event, it will take place in an open area near South Huron Avenue’s Mackinac Bay Trading Company. The amateur snow sculpting competition will begin Thursday and continue through Saturday morning before the entries are judged and displayed. The Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau is sponsoring the event with cash prizes being distributed in an awards ceremony at noon Saturday.

The Paradise Lake Association’s ice fishing tournament at Carp Lake has been cancelled owing to a lack of safe ice, but may be moved to Saturday, February 13.

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