Winterfest

No matter your poison, you’ll have plenty of pastimes to pick from Saturday in Diamond Park.

Giant Jenga? Oversized blocks will be stacked to perilous heights.

Mini putt-putt golf? Greens will be standing by.

Penguin bowling? The pins will be flying, even if the birds they resemble do not.

Dog sledding around Diamond Park? Snow or no snow, mushers are going to mush — they’ll be ready with either traditional sleds or three-wheeled dryland rigs.

Snow painting? Meadville-area Rembrandts and Kahlos will be at the mercy of Mother Nature for this activity, but even so, plenty of crafting opportunities await those attending the fourth annual Meadville Winterfest event from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

In fact, so many free activities are planned for the afternoon that the festivities will extend throughout the park itself and down Chestnut Street to warming stations at Stone United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Church of Meadville, the YMCA and Family & Community Christian Association, which is organizing the event.

“We’re hoping for snow on the ground but sun in the sky,” said Katie Allen, family services manager for the FCCA.

But whether the weather serves up the ideal conditions, one thing is clear, according to Allen.

“It’s going to be fun,” she said. “It always is.”

And the fun isn’t the only element of the event that remains the same as it has been each year since Winterfest was launched in 2017.

“Everything is free,” Allen said. “We’re just asking people to come out and have free family fun.”

The free fun includes horse-drawn carriage rides around the Diamond, wood carving in the park, hot chocolate and soup at Stone UMC, food, maple cotton candy, book giveaways and face painting at FCCA and more, according to Allen.

Participants can also get cards stamped at various activity locations and enter drawings for tickets to Erie BayHawks games, zoos in Erie and Pittsburgh, or various other prizes.

The many activities located under canopies in Diamond Park come courtesy of New Beginnings Church of God, which will take a trailer-load of fun to the event, according to Family Pastor Angie Mitchell.

The many volunteers staffing the tents and warming stations hope the wide range of activities and crafts draw lots of visitors to the event, Mitchell said.

“We hope they’ll come and enjoy the activities and let us love on them,” Mitchell said. “That’s what they’re down there for.”

As for the ideal conditions for a mid-February event held partly outdoors in northwestern Pennsylvania, Mitchell is hoping to avoid the rain that would turn Winterfest into a mudfest.

“Snow would be the most ideal, but I hope it’s not too cold for me,” Mitchell said. “I have learned to come with snow pants on.”

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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