2017-01-19 / Front Page

Winterfest Set for This Weekend

Chili Cook-off, Poker Walk, Outhouse Races Are Mackinaw City Highlights
By Erich T. Doerr

Mackinaw City Winterfest will take place from Friday, January 20, to Sunday, January 22, with most of the action focused on Saturday, January 21. This year’s festival includes a wide variety of events including crowd favorites such as a chili cook-off, a poker walk, horse-drawn wagon rides, a euchre tournament, and the Mackinaw Pepsi International Outhouse Race.

The 2017 Winterfest is the first after the organization of the community event changed to a joint effort by the Mackinaw City Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and the Mackinaw Area Visitors Bureau. Visitors Bureau Events Coordinator Becky Yoder said the two groups have worked great together. All of the organizers are looking forward to this weekend’s festivities.

“I hope it’s a little bit warmer” than last week, Mrs. Yoder said. “We’re looking for a good turnout. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Some of the activities require the purchase of an event button. The buttons are $3 apiece or four for $10. They can be purchased at most area businesses and at all of the events Saturday. Almost all of the events will go ahead no matter what the weather, but the downtown snow sculpting competition and an ice fishing contest in Carp Lake will be dependent on suitable conditions.

Mrs. Yoder said the outhouse races are always a fan favorite event at the festival. This year’s races will take place in the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry parking lot Saturday at 2 p.m. The action will begin with a parade of all the competing outhouses before the races begin. This year’s competition has a $500 prize for the winning team. There are additional cash prizes for second and third place, plus a “best in show” award.

The outhouse races feature teams of five competing with one rider and four pushers. Outhouses ride atop skis. More information about the race, and the required registration information necessary to take part, is available online at mackinawouthouserace.com. Gary Engle of G-Man Entertainment will again provide the music and commentary for the races. A reception for the racers will take place at the Dixie Saloon Friday night beginning at 10 p.m.

The chili cook-off will be held inside Mama Mia’s Pizzeria on East Central Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Those with a Winterfest button will be able to taste all of the chili entered in the contest then vote to determine which will win the contest’s people’s choice award.

The poker walk will take place downtown from 10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. as participants travel to area businesses in their efforts to create a winning poker hand. Those taking part can register, then set off from the B.C. Pizza restaurant on East Central Avenue. Prizes will be awarded at the restaurant at 1:30 p.m. and participants must be present to win.

A euchre tournament will take place at the Wawatam Area Senior Center on Cedar Street. Registration will begin at 11 a.m. and run until noon before the tournament starts at 1 p.m. It will continue through about 3 p.m. The tournament is open to those age 18 and older who have a Winterfest button. There is a $5 entry fee.

The snow sculpting competition will focus this year on students from the Mackinaw City Public Schools. If there is enough snow, the students will carve their sculptures near the Mackinac Bay Trading Company on South Huron Avenue Thursday, January 19, with the sculptures then remaining on display through Saturday.

Horse-drawn wagon or sleigh rides, with the conveyance depending on the weather, will be offered downtown Saturday. The rides will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Passengers can board and disembark the ride at the Marshall’s Fudge store on East Central Avenue.

The Mackinaw City Area Arts Council has organized its sixth annual free art exhibit at East Central Avenue’s Mackinaw Clothing and Sportswear Store. The display will feature the work of Mackinaw City area artists. The exhibit will open with a reception featuring the artists and refreshments from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. It will then be open again Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The list of artists whose work will be on display includes MaryAnn Moore, Katy Stone, Elaine Levine, Barbara Zimmer, Keeney Swearer, Mary Madigan, Chris Harwick, and more. The MCAAC also sponsored a contest for this year’s Winterfest that featured school children creating posters to promote the celebration.

American Legion Post 159 will be open to public Saturday offering music from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Both the Legion and the Dixie Saloon will have entertainment available in the evening.

The Winterfest Ice Fishing Tournament hosted by the Paradise Lake Association will take place on Paradise Lake from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, if ice conditions allow. Anglers who want to take part may preregister at the Carp Lake General Store, Clyde’s Place, or the Paradise Lake Marina. All entrants will meet at the lake’s Department of Natural Resources’ public access boat ramp. There are cash prizes for the heaviest pike, walleye, and pan fish caught during the all-ages contest. Registration for the tournament is from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday, with an additional preregistration session at the marina from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.

A fish fry will be Wednesday, January 18, as a fundraiser for the upcoming Mackinaw Memorial Parade in May. The fish fry will take place at the Pancake Chef from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

There has been one removal from the Winterfest schedule this year, as the children’s games featured in the past have been eliminated. The games had drawn little interest in recent years, leading to their discontinuation.

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