Meadville Tribune

February 6, 2014

As snow falls and temperatures drop, organizers excited for weekend's Winter Fun Days

By Konstantine Fekos
Meadville Tribune

JAMESTOWN — The Pymatuning Trail Blazers Snowmobile Club and Pymatuning Lake Association have a message to county residents in the wake of this week’s snowstorm — embrace it.

Low temperatures and tall snow piles make perfect conditions for this weekend’s Winter Fun Days at Pymatuning State Park, according to Denny Diodati, Trail Blazers president.

“Weather pretty much dictates this event,” he said, emphasizing that the show goes on, snow or shine. “In no-snow years, we don’t have a great turnout, but when we do have snow, we have a lot of people coming in, especially snowmobilers.”

On a good wintry weekend, Diodati said, the park has seen up to 6,000 people.

The 38th annual Winter Fun Days encompass Saturday and Sunday and feature a variety of winter-themed events and displays, including snowshoeing demonstrations, snowmobile rides for children, horse-drawn hay rides and more.

New additions this year include an ice fishing tournament, in conjunction with the Pymatuning Lake Association, pick-up ice hockey and “hillbilly curling.”

“This is the inaugural year for the ice fishing tournament,” Diodati said. “This is the first year the Lake Association’s done that. We’ve never had a tournament before.”

While the Lake Association puts on several spring fishing tournaments, President Joel Brown admits this is the group’s first foray into icy waters.

“We’re trying some new things this year to get a little more foot traffic,” Brown said. “We’ve never had an ice fishing tournament so we thought we’d give that a whirl.”

Fishing enthusiasts willing to brave the frozen lake can pre-register or register on-site Saturday with a $20 entry fee. The tournament runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with measuring from noon to 3:30 p.m.

Cash prizes will be awarded for the longest walleye, crappie and perch. Registration forms are available at pymatuninglake.com or at Richter’s in Jamestown, Gateway Bait & Tackle in Andover, Ohio, Espyville Outdoors and Poff’s Place, both in Espyville.

Proceeds go toward fish habitat crib structures, roughly 100 of which are built each year in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, according to Brown, who said the Lake Association is shooting for 150 this year.

“I hope it goes well,” he said. “We’re good at putting on tournaments and we’ve done it for a long time, but ice fishing’s a little different. It takes a different group of people to ice fish. You figure they’ve got to be pretty tough to be out there in single digits when it’s snowing and blowing.”

While ice fishing will be the main attraction this year, Diodati believes ice hockey and hillbilly curling will make for some pretty substantial winter fun.

“We need different attractions to bring people here,” he said. “These will give new opportunities to people in the community.”

Members of the public can form their own hockey teams and bring skates and sticks to the lake on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the same times as hillbilly curling.

“We’ll have people playing hockey if nothing else for spectators to watch, but we’d like to see the public get involved,” Brown said, admittedly unsure of what hillbilly curling entails. “We’ll find out on Saturday.”

Winter Fun Days will also feature a frozen 5K run, hosted by Jamestown High School Students for Charity to raise money for their funds which benefit local families and community organizations, Diodati said.

Other attractions include a vintage snowmobile display, chain saw woodcarvings and a pick-a-prize auction. Attendees can also purchase breakfast and lunch at Shelter No. 4 from 8 to 11 a.m. and 11 a.m. until closing.

Event organizers agree that while snow makes the event worthwhile, Winter Fun Days are about getting people outdoors to enjoy the inevitable winter season experienced in Crawford County.

“With the weather forecast that we’re seeing with all these warnings, we’re pretty excited about it,” Diodati said. “It looks like it’s going to be a good weekend for it.”

“We think of events that will bring people out of their homes to embrace wintertime around here instead of staying inside, getting cabin fever,” Brown said.

Schedule of events

The 38th annual Winter Fun Days are Saturday and Sunday at Pymatuning State Park, Shelter No. 4 at the Old Jamestown Beach. All events are weather-dependent.

- There will be an area cleared for ice skating on both days. Members of the public must bring their own skates.

- The ice fishing tournament is Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. with measuring from noon to 3:30 p.m. Cash prizes will be awarded for the longest walleye, crappie and perch. A $20 entry fee includes a meal ticket. Entrants may also be eligible for door prizes. More information: Call Joel Brown, tournament director, at (724) 927-9493.

- Pick-up pond hockey games and hillbilly curling is Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of the public can form their own hockey teams and must provide their own equipment. Equipment is provided for hillbilly curling.

- Beginner’s snowshoeing is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the environmental classroom at the Jamestown Marina. Snowshoes are provided. All children must be accompanied by an adult. More information: Call (724) 932-3971.

- Free snowmobile rides are available for children from noon to 3 p.m. both days. A guided snowmobile trail ride starts on Saturday at 2 p.m. A minimum of four inches of snow must be on the ground for snowmobile events to run.

- The frozen 5K run is scheduled for Saturday. More information: Email Heather_Harmon@jamestown.k12.pa.us.

- Meals are available for purchase in Shelter No. 4 on Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast is served from 8 to 11 a.m. and lunch is served from 11 a.m. until closing.

- Other attractions on both days include a vintage snowmobile display, chain saw wood carvings, a pick-a-prize auction and various vendors.

More information: Visit pymatuningtrailblazers.com; or call Pymatuning Trial Blazers Snowmobile Club President Denny Diodati at (814) 720-6584 or Pymatuning State Park at (724) 932-3142.