Winter and Water: Three festivals in February

Winter and Water: Three festivals in February

Though typically winter is thought of as a time for hibernating, for many, it is the time to come out and play. Many fun local events await us in February, including Beulah’s annual Winterfest, Frankfort’s Shiver by the River, and the sixth annual Benzie County Water Festival.

These great events are not only attended by locals; Vicki Carpenter of the Crystal Lake Community Business Association estimates that half of all Winterfest attendees each year are in from out of town, based on the locations that she sees each year on chili cook-off ballots.

Will you make it to some of this year’s fun events?

Tuesday, February 2, 6pm: Through a partnership with the Northern Michigan Culinary Arts Community (NMCAC), there will be a dinner and discussion at Grow Benzie as a pre-event to this year’s Water Festival. The theme will be “Rivers Run Through,” and panelists will include John Ransom of the Benzie Conservation District, as well as representatives from the Platte Watershed Initiative, Herring Lake Watershed, and the Betsie Watershed Planning Board. The suggested donation is $9.

Friday, February 12: Thanks to an ongoing partnership between the Benzie County Water Festival committee, the Benzie Conservation District, and Benzie County’s Recycling and Solid Waste Program, there will once again be kids’ activities for all students at Frankfort-Elberta Elementary School. Activities will include an interactive recycling exhibit and crafts, water tasting (tap vs. bottled), a worm farm, an aquatic bugs display, and the Nature Discovery Live Reptile & Amphibian Exhibit, which has probably been the most popular part of past festivals, with kids and adults alike taking turns holding all kinds of Michigan frogs, snakes, and salamanders.

Saturday, February 13: Beulah’s annual Winterfest begins with breakfast specials at The Hungry Tummy and the Blue Caribou Café at 8am. A cookie sale at the Beulah Trailhead from 10am to 2pm will benefit the Darcy Library. There is a poker run with a guaranteed minimum jackpot from 11am to 8pm at The Corner Pub. At noon is the frozen turkey bowling, with awards for adults and children. From noon to 1:30pm is the Chili cookoff; call Tim at 231-882-5103 to participate. At 12:30pm, the Benzie Sheriff’s Department Dive Team will perform demonstrations on Crystal Lake. From 12:30-3:30pm, there will be horse-drawn hayrides around downtown Beulah, as well as a snowball target competition in the Beulah Park. From 1-4pm, it’s Take A Kid Fishing at the Beulah Beach, with poles and bait provided. Sponsored in part by the Benzie County Water Festival and Big Bob’s Up North Outfitters of Frankfort. At 1:30pm, take part in the 12th annual frozen fish toss, followed by the rubber duck race in Cold Creek at 2pm. The Winterfest parade starts at 3:30pm, and call Tim if you want to be in the parade. Immediately following the parade will be the outhouse sprint, beginning at the Trailhead. At 7:15pm, the night comes to a close with fireworks on Crystal Lake. (In case of bad weather, fireworks will be held at the same time, same place on Saturday, February 20.) Winterfest is sponsored by the Benzie County Visitors Bureau and the Crystal Lake Community Business Association.

Saturday, February 20: Registration for the sixth annual Betsie Bay Frozen 5k begins at 8:30 a.m. at the American Legion hall on Main Street in Frankfort. Runners will be shuttled to the 10 a.m. start of the race at the scenic Elberta lookout and then will run back to downtown Frankfort along the beautiful Betsie Bay. An awards ceremony at the Legion will follow; all pre-registered runners are guaranteed a shirt and a medal with their $20 registration fee. Top male and female finishers in each age group get a special prize. With the help of more than 50 community business sponsors, one-in-three runners will take home a raffled prize valued at $50 or more. The 5k is run or walk, snow or shine, open to all ages, and dog-friendly for friendly dogs. It is a great way to get the whole family out and about during the snowy February days while supporting two great causes–proceeds will benefit local and global water initiatives including the BCWC scholarship and the Benzie County Water Festival, as well as On The Ground’s Chiapas Water Project in Mexico. Register online by Wednesday, February 17, or at the Legion on race day. After the run, enjoy events for Shiver by the River and the sixth annual Benzie County Water Festival that will be going on in Frankfort. There will be a winter parade and kids’ activities, featuring sledding and games like Tug-o-War, Frozen Ski Ball, and more. Horse-drawn carriage rides will be going on downtown, as well as Ice Bowling on Main Street. The Benzie Sheriff’s Department will perform an ice rescue demonstration. New this year will be a beer and food tasting at the Frankfort-Elberta Chamber of Commerce office from 11am-4pm, with local beers and wines from Stormcloud and St. Ambrose Cellars. Helicopter rides will be going on at the boat launch parking lot. There will be free shuttles between Frankfort and Elberta throughout the day, compliments of the Benzie Bus. At 2:30pm, there will be a bridge run, a new event to see who can get across the Frankfort-Elberta bridge the fastest. Costumes are encouraged, and the entry fee goes toward a new hydroponic aquarium at Frankfort High School. The Elberta Waterfront Park will have sledding and a warming fire pit. There will be an after part at the Mayfair Tavern at 3pm. From 4-6pm, Stormcloud Brewing Company will be donating 50% of all sales in the pub to the Benzie County Water Festival through their “Tip of the Pint” fundraising program.

Feature photo: The Water Festival returns to Benzie County. Photo courtesy of Sarah Louisignau Wright.

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Aubrey Parker

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