Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 8, 2013

Winter fests put spark in weekend

Gatherings offer winter events with a small-town feel

BY ANGIE JACKSON
ajackson@record-eagle.com

BEULAH — The suites above Sally Berlin's home accessory store, Crystal Crate & Cargo, are rented out this weekend to a local family and their friends who plan to watch fireworks Saturday night over Crystal Lake.

The view from her balcony of pyrotechnics that wrap Beulah's annual Winterfest is "quite spectacular" when paired with the reflection on the snow, Berlin said.

It's common for the suites to be booked during the one-day festival.

Winterfest boasts outdoor activities such as an ice fishing competition, a softball tournament on the ice, frozen turkey bowling and horse-drawn hay rides. A chili cook-off engages festival-goers with local businesses.

"Part of it is just keeping the downtown areas in the community kind of vibrant and vitalized and getting people downtown," said Steve Loveless, president of Crystal Lake Community Business Association, which puts on Winterfest.

Loveless said the small-town feel gives the event an edge compared to larger festivals such as the Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival, which also is set for Saturday.

Residents in Lake Ann will enjoy a similar intimate atmosphere Saturday at the Snow Pine Fest. All activities are free and include a pancake breakfast, a quilt show, sledding, an old-time snowmobile display, live music, and there will be cookies "throughout the town."

"It's very family oriented," said organizer Renee Latka.

The festival attracts residents and visitors who don't expect a huge event.

"But that's kind of how we like it, to be able to sit and talk and know each and get to know the people that come in," Latka said.

The Beulah Winterfest is not unlike Traverse City's National Cherry Festival, Berlin said, in the sense that people who have moved out of town return for the event. Loveless said people with summer homes also come to town.