Empire Winterfest 2007: As cold as you want to be!

Winterfest by Jim SorbieThe annual Empire Winterfest will be held this Friday through Sunday (Feb 9-11). Highlights include Friday night bonfire and ice skating on South Bar Lake, kids games at noon on Saturday followed by the legendary Polar Bear Dip, a potluck Saturday night followed by live, coffeehouse-style entertainment, the Lions Pancake Breakfast at the Township Hall on Sunday morning and the Winterfest Parade from the top to the bottom of Empire’s Base Hill.

There’s a whole bunch more below!

Photo credit: Enjoying Empire’s South Bar Lake During the Empire Winterfest by Jim Sorbie.
The Empire Winterfest’s inaugural year was 1983. Over that time we’ve held a whole lot of unusual events, have had all sorts of weather, have entertained or frozen all sorts of folks. Winterfest 2007 marks our 25th attempt. And people are once again getting “fired up” for another round. With the temps starting to dip, a little firing up is more than welcome.

A brief overview follows. The South Bar Ice Skating rink is being made with a little help from Empire’s Township Fire Department. Help will be welcome clearing off the snow. Feel free to skate on it, but if is freshly flooded, please hold off until it’s frozen. The skating party with luminaries, bon fire, hot dogs & chocolate, marshmallows starts at 7.

This year’s Pool Tournament is being aided by Laura Sielaff. Registration is between 6:30 and 7:20 with a 7:30 start. 50/50 split with a nominal entry fee. It’s been $5 for the past 20 years.

On Saturday, the Yoga Class has been moved forward 1 hour for a 10 o’clock start. At noon, the Glen Lake Softball Team will present a hotdog dinner and bake sale. This will continue until 3 if you want to catch some food after the Polar Dip. The proceeds from this event will go towards their spring training camp in S. Carolina. Beryl Skrocki will head up the Kidz Games at South Bar Lake. Inclement weather will probably move them to the Downtown Open Space. Kids of All ages are welcome. The Park Service only has room for 35 on the Snowshoe Hike so call for reservations

A spectator favorite is the Polar Bear Dip, 2 pm sharp. We’ve been getting upwards of 50 dippers, as few as five when very cold, and have only canceled once on account of a deathly cold blast! Last year we did Lake Michigan because of bad ice. I guess we’ll see.

We’ve got our own less formal style of curling, so Feel free to join in. If your care to B.S. or just get warm, stop by the Township Hall. There will be a Soup & Roll potluck from 4:30 – 6:30. A dish to pass in not necessary, but welcome. Donate a few bucks if you care to. We’ll have “just veggie” soup too. Rounding out the evening will be a coffee house style gathering with beverages, vocal or acoustic entertainment, open mic and board games. First time for this, thought we’d give it a whirl.

After pancakes on Sunday morning, it’s time to head to the “Base Hill” at the south end of Lake Street. The first ever Winterfest parade is On! The paraders will be dropped off at the top of the hill from Wilco Road, and float down the hill. As the hill isn’t always cooperative, be ready for any kind action. The spectators may want to park on Lake St. and hike up the hill for a ways for a good view. Try not to stand where careening floats might take you out. Open Sledding after that, car pooling to the top.

Finally, you’re free to Chill & Relax, reflect and enjoy what the winter has to offer and Dream of Spring. It won’t be long before it’s here, so get out and enjoy the Winter White while you can.