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Too much snow? Winterfest in Amherst postponed to Sunday

A snow machine was working early this week to make snow for Winterfest at Cherry Hill Golf Course in Amherst. A snowstorm scheduled for Friday and Saturday has not only made that unnecessary, but has prompted organizers to move the event to Sunday.
SARAH CROSBY

A snow machine was working early this week to make snow for Winterfest at Cherry Hill Golf Course in Amherst. A snowstorm scheduled for Friday and Saturday has not only made that unnecessary, but has prompted organizers to move the event to Sunday. SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

Forecasts for large accumulations of snow Friday and into Saturday forced organizers of Winterfest to move the event to Sunday.

“Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing?” said Barbara Bilz, assistant director of Leisure Services and Supplemental Education.

With predictions of potentially more than a foot of snow falling in the Pioneer Valley, Bilz said the decision was made to reschedule the annual event as it appeared there would be hazardous travel conditions Friday and Saturday.

“We want everybody to be safe and to stay off the roads until they are cleared,” Bilz said.

Winterfest is now scheduled at the Cherry Hill Golf Course on Route 63 from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, closing with fireworks.

The rescheduling of 100 or more vendors and numerous volunteers could be challenging, but Bilz said she believes most of the events will still take place.

“We’ll make the best of it,” Bilz said. “It’ll still be fun.”

Organizers stopped making snow earlier in the week as they readied for the storm. Snow is essential to some of the events, such as the Cardboard Classic downhill sledding competition.

Bilz said in the five previous years, the event has not been postponed and there has not been a need for a snow date. The biggest concern for organizers, which include the Friends of Amherst Recreation, usually is whether rain might affect the event.

This year’s event features some new activities. One is the “Best in Snow” dog show, begins at 3:15 p.m., where people and their pets will compete in several categories, including the best tail-wagger, most clever dog trick, best smile and best dog and owner look-alike, before an award is given to the top dog.

The dog show idea came from Claudia Pazmany, president of the Friends, who wanted to add what she calls a “fun twist” to the event for pet lovers who consider dogs part of their families.

Another new event is a group Zumbafest at 5 p.m. And a mascot named Flaky the Snowman is being unveiled, and he will be joined by the Very Hungry Caterpillar from Eric Carle’s popular children’s book.

Mostly, though, it will be return to favorites at Winterfest. The Cardboard Classic has people racing their own cardboard creations down a hill 4:15 p.m. Bilz said two sleds she has already seen are a castle and a dragon.

Also, children can bring their own sleds to ride down the “superpipe” sledding hill until dusk. At 2 p.m., they will be able to build snow sculptures.

A chili cookoff from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. features competing entries from Amherst Brewing Company, Atkins Farms Country Market, Chandler’s Restaurant, The Black Sheep Deli and The Harp.

Performances by the Pineapple Dance Electric Boys and Wildcat O’Halloran, contests such as closest to the pin and Frisbee long toss at 2 and 3 p.m., doughnut eating sponsored by Atkins Farms Country Market at 5 p.m. and activities like wagon rides by Muddy Brook Farm from 1 to 3 p.m. and face painting from 3 to 5 p.m. round out the event.

Bilz said Winterfest helps show off the town-owned Cherry Hill Golf Course. “It’s a way for more of the community to experience this beautiful piece of property they own,” Bilz said.

“For us, its about getting the community out and having a good time,” said Pazmany, who added that sponsors have been instrumental to the success.

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce assists with the event. Executive Director Tony Maroulis said it remains one of his favorites.

“There’s nothing like coming out on a winter day (and) hanging out with friends and family,” he said.

Winterfest concludes with a 30-minute fireworks display beginning at 6 p.m. sponsored by the Friends group, Bilz said.

Parking is available at Cherry Hill, along both sides of Montague Road, and in the parking lots at Mill River Recreation Area, on Montague Road and ProSensing at 107 Sunderland Road. Shuttles will run from the two remote locations.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students with IDs, $5 for children and $20 for families and are available at the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce on Amity Street, Atkins on West Street and the Leisure Services office at the Bangs Community Center.

Food and drink are available and sold separately, though chili tasting, for all ages, and wine and cheese tasting, for adults, are included with price of admission.

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