Winterfest shaping up with full slate

Weather permitting, it should be a banner year for the Warren County Winterfest at Chapman State Park.

Organizers and volunteers have worked throughout the past months, soliciting donations, lining up sled dog racers and adding events to an already busy three-day weekend.

The event will begin on Friday, Jan. 17 with a 32-mile mid-distance race for sled dogs and a “Meet the Mushers” spaghetti dinner at the Kalbfus Club.

Because of issues in preceding years, event Chair Sharon Miller said, “Please don’t bring your dogs.” She wasn’t referring to the sled dogs, of course, but park visitors with family pets.

Volunteer Bob Hulings added that the sled dogs, especially huskies, are very competitive and will attack other dogs once they are in harness. Additionally, a child was bitten last year.

For the Jim Lobdell Memorial Sled Dog Races, Ed Atwood said, “There is some real competition this year. Our races have the most purebred huskies than any other.”

He also noted that because of muzzleloader hunting season, they have one less day to use the game lands as a part of the race track.

In addition to the races, there will be “ski-joring,” where dogs pull people on skis, sled-riding on the hill, ice skating, foods and crafts, a geo-meet, ice fishing and of course the ever-popular Polar Bear Plunge, where volunteers take a dip in the lake at the beach.

There is a new event, where people race on foot behind leashed dogs. This event came about in preceding years when there was no snow.

Wes Ramsey, executive director of Penn Soil Conservation and Development Council, presented a spreadsheet listing donations and expenditures for the event, noting that Verizon would be making a $5,000 contribution.

Other cash contributions came from the Donald Lewis Funeral Home, A.D.M. Welding and Fabrication, R.E. Baker and Sons, Betts Industries, Pipeworks Plumbing Heating and Airconditioning, Collins Pine Company, Crossett Inc., Pennsylvania General Energy, First Energy, Watson Township, Pleasant Township, Superior Tire and Rubber, Orchard Brands, Sheffield Container, Barnhart Davis, the Clarendon VFW and Columbia Gas.

He also noted that the commemorative coins for this year have been received, and will be sold for $10 each, or three for $25.

Barry Wutz, park maintenance supervisor, said there is now five inches of ice on the lake. He also said that in years past, littering has been a problem, with beverage cups turning up all over the park and in the lake into March and April.

The next meeting will be held at the park on Thursday, Jan. 2.