NORTH ADAMS -- Get your chowder spoons ready. Sharpen your skates. It's time for the 16th annual WinterFest.
The mid-winter favorite, featuring ice sculptures, a chowder competition and tasting, free ice skating, horse-drawn wagon rides and marshmallows roasted over a community campfire, returns to the city Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m.
"We're adding a few new items this year," Veronica Bosley, the city's director of tourism and community events, said Wednesday. "We'll be shutting down the north side of Main Street and part of Holden Street for a few new activities. We're hoping to have enough snow to bring in to make a snow pile for kids to play in. We'll also be hosting a community campfire on Holden Street, where people will be able to stop and roast a marshmallow."
She added, "There will also be Zumba classes for adults and children in the afternoon and the Northern Berkshire Y is planning on hosting some children's activities as well."
Kicking off the day's activities will be the delivery of 10 large blocks of ice that will be sculpted into various shapes by local businesses and artists. Sculpting will begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
"All of the blocks of ice are sponsored by local businesses and organizations," Bosley said. "What's really neat is this year we have a great combination of downtown business sponsors and a group of businesses that are sponsors that aren't on Main Street. North Adams Regional Hospital is sponsoring a block of ice, as well as the Berkshire Natural Resources Council. Some of the business owners are brave and will be sculpting the ice themselves, but other businesses are just sponsoring the blocks. We've paired those sponsors with artists or creative types who want to sculpt. We have a group from Mass MoCA that will be coming out to sculpt a block."
One of the day's highlights, The WinterFest Chowder Competition, will run from noon to 2 p.m.
A panel of local "celebrity" judges will choose the winning chowder, but the public is encouraged to vote for their preferred chowders to decide the "People's Choice Award."
"We'll have a wide variety of chowders, as the restaurants that participate plan to serve up every variation of chowder," she said. "I've heard there will be a buffalo chicken chowder and a crawfish and corn chowder, as well as the traditional clam chowder. A lot of our participants will do a traditional clam chowder and then offer a different variety of chowder as well."
The restaurants will be split between two locations, at 18 Holden St. and in the hallway of 85 Main St.
In addition, Hoosac Bank will offer free horse-drawn wagon rides from 1 to 3 p.m., and the First Baptist Church will have hot chocolate and indoor children's activities. Local Girl Scout troops will also be located downtown selling cookies.
In the evening, a free skating dance party will be held at the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink from 7 to 9 p.m. The party will feature a DJ and food.
Maps and schedules will be available Saturday. For more information, contact Bosley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 413-664-6180.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email
What: 16th annual WinterFest
Where: Downtown North Adams
When: Saturday, Feb. 23
Schedule of events:
n Ice sculptures: Beginning at 10 a.m. Locations on Main and Eagle streets. Sponsors: Shima, MCLA Gallery 51, Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Emporium & Antiques, I Got Goodies, North Adams Regional Hospital, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Eclipse Mill, Shear Madness, Desperados
n Children's activity: 10:30 a.m., at North Adams Public Library
n Chowder competition: Noon to 2 p.m. Chowder will be available at two locations: 18 Holden St. and 85 Main St. Participants: Gramercy Bistro, The Hub, Boston Seafood, Bounti-Fare, Williams College, North Adams Commons, Aramark, Hops & Vines, Desperados
n Free horse-drawn wagon rides: 1 to 3 p.m. Sponsored by Hoosac Bank
n Skating dance party: 7 to 9 p.m., at Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink. Admission is free.