Winterfest wrapped up with good financials

Another Winterfest has come and gone, and volunteers met Monday to review what was good and bad about this year’s event.

Sgt. Brandon Deppen of the Warren City Police reported that the parking lots were sparsely used, except for around the event tent on the west side of the lake. “We really didn’t have any issues,” he said.

Barry Wutz, maintenance supervisor at Chapman State Park noted that a woman was locked out of her car by her dogs that were inside it, but it was quickly opened.

A temporary cell tower from the State College area was installed for the event, but it was not re-programmed with the parks location, so even though there was phone coverage, people who attempted to use their smart phones for GPS in the Geomeet received Centre County coordinates.

There were an estimated 4,300 visitors, according to Laura Whitten, park administrative assistant, up from 3,900 last year. She said that the estimate came from using a vehicle counter and estimates of car occupant numbers.

Wutz said the word on the street prior to the festival was that it had been canceled after the news release about the cancellation of the sled dog competitions. “Three feet of snow or no feet of snow, Winterfest goes on, regardless,” he said. Event Chair Sharon Miller said, “There’s a lot to do at this park,” even without the races.

Although the mid-distance and sprint races weren’t held because of the scarcity of snow, the weight-pull drew many competitors and spectators.

Race Marshal Ed Atwood said, “It’s definitely the biggest weight pull in Pennsylvania.” He added that many of the competitors went to a pull in Lake Placid, N.Y., following Winterfest.

A lengthy discussion was held about distributing advertising flyers for next year, and getting them out before Labor Day.Wutz took some last year to McKean County, and he noted that many people from McKean attended.

He suggested circulating the flyers to surrounding state parks, as their visitors are also outdoor oriented.

Wes Ramsey, executive director of Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council, gave the financial report, saying, “We did well with the (geocache coin) sales at the Geomeet, and I have been successful selling them on eBay.”

The group agreed that a volunteer dedicated to selling them at next year’s Winterfest would help.

“All in all, we’re in good shape. It looks like we did pretty well; we can budget early (for next year). We’ll know what we have to work with,” Ramsey said. He added that the ledger showed a balance of $8,218.28 with only a couple of outstanding invoices.

Miller suggested “breaking up” events next year, to try and entice more people to the festival on Sunday. “Some people have to work on Saturdays,” she added.

Atwood suggested only having an ambulance on the scene during the day of the Polar Bear Plunge, but Deppen and Wutz quickly disagreed, saying the presence of an ambulance helps to limit liability in case of accidents. Additionally, Emergycare is listed as a major sponsor in lieu of payment for the service.

Paige Bluhm of Tails of the Tundra suggested holding a “Run What You Brung,” where Winterfest visitors could have their own dogs hooked up to sleds, according to Atwood. He noted that participants would have to sign waivers, just as the racers do. “She is trying to get people involved,” he added.

Someone has volunteered to photograph all events for next year’s event, Miller said.

Atwood added that the group needs a Recreation Director, a general Winterfest coordinator. He added that it is a year-round volunteer position.