Easthampton’s Winterfest fun and games in the offing

  • Orion Sussman, 6, of Florence, left, watches as his brother Jasper Sussman, 3, uses an ice saw with assistance from New England Ice Harvester Rick Martin of Hatfield during a historical ice harvest demonstration Feb. 10, 2018 at the fifth annual Easthampton WinterFest at Nashawannuck Pond. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/26/2020 11:20:45 PM
Modified: 1/26/2020 11:20:29 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The 7th annual Easthampton WinterFest promises a day of festivities and family fun in the city on Feb. 8. But Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee member Beth Tiffany wants people to remember the reason for the season.

“It has a purpose,” she said. “To support the health of the pond.”

Even though it’s a fundraiser, almost all of the events at WinterFest are free, although there will be donation jars present throughout. Some of the day’s events include a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, horse-drawn wagon rides from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting from 50 Payson Ave., a historical ice harvest from noon to 3 p.m. on the pond, and a showing of the movie “Ice Age” from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Easthampton High School. Country band Rosie Porter and the Neon Moons will be playing at Abandoned Building Brewery from 5 to 7:30 p.m. as well.

One of the events that does require a buy-in is the $5 required for a ballot in the chili cook-off. Those with a ballot can try up to seven different chilis from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the high school and vote for their favorite. All ticket purchases go to the fundraising effort, and the winning chili cook gets a plaque.

One of the big ways the WinterFest raises money and gets the funds needed to put the event on is sponsorships. Some of the sponsors of this year’s WinterFest include River Valley Co-op, Foam USA, Easthampton Savings Bank, the Easthampton Police Association and Big E’s Supermarket. The Gazette is a media sponsor of the event.

Another way WinterFest raises money for the pond is through selling spots for vendors at the fest’s Craft & Vendor Fair. Visitors can check out the fair this yearat Keystone Mill from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

A part of Winterfest that has already begun is the Albert Kiesling Snow Art Competition, now in its third year. Until 10 a.m. on Feb. 8, contestants can create snow art in Easthampton and submit it for judging, which can be done via photo or in person.

“Unfortunately, we’re lacking snow the last few years,” Tiffany said.

In the event that snow is lacking in the weeks leading up to the contest, it can be extended.

The Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee is a city committee formed in 1985 to promote the preservation and cleanup of the pond. It has six members who also organize Winterfest, aided by a veritable army of other volunteers.

“We ask for over 100 volunteers,” said Tiffany, who noted that they’re still looking for more for this year.

Money raised by the committee will contribute to the cleaning out of the pond’s siltation basins this year. The basins serve to keep the pond from filling with sediment.

In addition to $261,000 of Community Preservation Act funding going toward the work is $40,000 raised by the committee through WinterFest and other efforts.

In another example of committee dollars at work, herbicide treatments for Eurasian milfoil in 2019, an invasive species, was paid for by fundraisers.

Tiffany said she has always appreciated the pond as open space, but said that with the addition of the boardwalk, “I love that it brings people to downtown.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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