|(Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau) |
Putting the finishing touches on a snow sculptureat
last year’s Cherry Capital Winter Wow!fest in Traverse City.
Now in its fifth year, Traverse City’s winter festival takes place over the President’s Day weekend, Feb. 18-20. It has grown steadily in popularity since its inception, and several events have had to limit the number of competitors or attendees, including the Friday evening “Winter, Wine & Wow!” food & drink reception and the new EpicHappens "Downtown Throwdown Rail Jam." Early registration is also encouraged for the Monster Dog Pull and the Snowball Softball Tournament.
Fortunately, it’s easy to register online for all these events (or sign up as a volunteer) at the festival website, www.winterwowfest.com
Organizers are also adding a large new riverfront venue to accommodate several sprawling new events – including an artificial snow-tubing hill and a day-long ski/snowboard tournament that will require construction of a 30-foot ramp. The new venue, called “Celebration Central,” will be along the city’s riverfront between Cass and Union streets, an area that hosts the local farmer’s market during the summer and fall months.
Celebration Central is located just north of the city’s main retail area and will host many festival events that were held downtown in previous years. Organizers say the move will allow them to add new events without forcing attendees to give up the convenience of nearby shops and restaurants. The downtown district, centered on Front Street, will continue to host several favorite attractions, including its “Sweetheart of a Sale” promotion, horse-and-carriage rides and the wildly popular avenue of ice sculptures.
“Winter Wow!fest is all about getting out and enjoying some winter fun with friends in our beautiful area,” says Brad Van Dommelen, president of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, one of the festival’s several organizing entities. “We’ve added many new activities this year, and brought back lots of favorites from last winter.”
The new events at Celebration Central include:
- A Friday evening food & drink reception called “Winter, Wine & Wow!” that will feature local wines, craft brews, spirits, food and art – plus live entertainment -- in a large heated tent.
- The EpicHappens "Downtown Throwdown Rail Jam" where ski/boarders will join for a day-long competition of technical rail grinding for cash and prizes. (Spectators are free to watch all day from the viewing stand facing a 30-foot snow-covered ramp built for the purpose.)
- A new snow park/tubing hill created by Shanty Creek Resorts to introduce families to the fun of snow-tubing.
“The ski and snowboard community will come together for a full day of competition and socializing,” said action/extreme sports promoter Matt Hodges, co-founder of EpicHappens.com, who is organizing the Downtown Throwdown event. “This draws amateur and professional riders from all parts of the Midwest to compete for cash and prizes.”
A number of already-popular Wow!fest events will also be moving to the new venue, including the Monster Dog Pull (where canine Olympians can compete for the title of “monster dog” by pulling weighted sleds) and winter versions of popular Cherry Festival competitions like the Frozen Pit Spit contest and the Brain Freeze frozen treat-eating competition.
The new venue will also host the uproarious Frozen Bed Race, and the “Soup r’ Bowl” competition where participants slurp up soups created by local chefs and cast ballots for their favorites.
The Cherry Capital Winter Wow!fest started out in 2007 at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. As other sponsors and venues have joined the celebration each year, it has become increasingly popular with local residents and visitors alike. The Resort’s “Winter Fun Zone” features ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, rides on ponies, dogsleds, snowmobiles and horse-drawn sleighs, plus bonfires, live music, and after-dark fireworks over the snow.
The Winter Fun Zone is also home to a selection of competitive events that range from the familiar (Sunday’s Frosty 5K foot race and a kid’s snowshoe race) to the unlikely (a “frozen fish toss.”) There’s even a nine-hole Snow Golf Tournament on the resort’s famed golf terrain. This year, they’ve added yet another twist: a Sunday afternoon parade of vintage snowmobiles.
Other events are scheduled at the Mt. Holiday Ski Area, including such offbeat competitions as the Friday “Downhill Dash,” a no-holds-barred mountain bike/ski/snowboard race down the ski hill, the “Cardboard Bobsled-o-Rama” in which competitors must use sleds made only with cardboard, tape and paint, and Sunday’s “Big Air Championship.” And at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, it’s the second year for the co-ed Snowball Softball Tournament where as many as 20 teams will compete on four neighboring diamonds all day Saturday.
For a complete listing of events, log on to the festival web site at www.winterwowfest.com