While there will be plenty of new events and activities, the annual Whitehall Winter Festival will start out on Sunday, Feb. 15 the same way it always does…
With a splash.
“It’s a very popular event,” said festival chair Marge Mohn concerning the 9 a.m. Penguin Dip into Lake Champlain that signifies the start of the annual festival. “People like to see you go into the ice cold water of Lake Champlain.”
Mohn has plenty of experience with the phenomenon, often taking the plunge herself.
“People always find it interesting to watch others do something like that,” she said. “Some are amazed that we would even try it.”
Along with the plunge, there will be a number of events to celebrate winter throughout the day, with several new additions to the schedule.
“We will have Wings Clydesdale Horses from Granville here that will give carriage rides starting in Skenesborough Park and running down through Main Street from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.,” said Mohn. “We are really happy to have them here. The pancake breakfast is also something that is new. That will be presented by the chamber and held at the Skenesborough Fire House from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m.”
There will also be a Bigfoot contest at the Skenesborough Park starting at 1 p.m., with prizes for the best look-a-like, biggest foot and tallest Bigfoot to attend.
“People will be dressing up as Bigfoot,” said Mohn. “I think that should be a fun event for people.”
There will be a kids ice fishing derby that will be held on the canal from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., along with a number of events for kids and the family at the Skenesborough Park from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., including Iditarod races, tug of war, snow sculpture contest, snow shoeing, a funny hat contest at the Skenesborough Fire House at 1 p.m. and snowmobile rides. There will also be sledding at the Whitehall United Methodist Church from noon until 4 p.m., with soup and hot chocolate provided.
For those looking to get their fill at the festival, the annual Taste of Whitehall event will be held at the Skenesborough Fire House from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“That is always a very popular part of the Winter Festival,” said Mohn. “We will also be selling tickets for our quilt raffle at the Taste of Whitehall, with the quilt show coming in July.”
At 11 a.m., there will be a pair of competitive eating contests, with a hot dog and pie eating contest taking place at the picnic area of Skenesborough Park.
There will be an art show sponsored by the Arts and recreation Commission of Whitehall at the Pavilion in Skenesborough Park from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. At the same time, there will also be a chance to look back at the history of Whitehall as the Skenesborough Museum will open its doors.
The Winter Festival is the first big event of 2009, in which the town will celebrate its 250th year of existence and help in celebrating the 400th year of the discovery of Lake Champlain by French explorer Samuel De Champlain.
“It has been exciting this year,” said Mohn. “Things have been coming together well.”
For more information on the Whitehall Winter Festival on Feb. 15, contact Mohn at 499-2435.