By Rosemary Horvath
A typical winter blast will show up in time for Saturday’s annual Winterfest at Peterson Park on Crooked Lake in Lake during what has been an atypical winter so far.
Event sponsor is the Lake Firefighters Auxiliary and all proceeds are donated to the Garfield Township Fire Department.
Lake ice has been around 12 inches thick, according to Garfield Township Fire Chief Kevin Tubbs, that adds to the challenge. Fishers of all ages vye to reel in the largest pan fish or the largest pike, all based on weight. Fee to enter the contest is $12.
New this year is a shotgun start precisely at 8 a.m. alerting contestants to get those ice augers drilling. Tubbs explained in the past fishers camped over night or started earlier than 8, so the new plan is to have everyone begin the contest at the same time.
Cash awards will be presented at 5 p.m. down from the park. Follow the posted signs for the location. Award winners from the day’s events will be given out at the same time. There will be 50-50 raffles during the day Saturday.
Hearty souls will get a chance to “cool off” jumping in the water for the Polar Dip starting at noon. Contestants are known to wear creative costumes. Fee to enter is $5.
Snowman building, ice skating, ice hockey and tree decorating around the skating park add to festivities throughout the day.
From 1 to 3 p.m. at the ice skating rink there is ice bowling and putt putt golf. At 4 p.m. the 6-man team tug of war tournament on ice begins.
Lakeside Bar and Grill will host a party featuring music supplied by a DJ. The 50-50 drawing is set for 11 p.m. at the Lakeside.
Tubbs added that local merchants play a huge role by sponsoring events, including the 50-50 drawing. “The Winterfest is our largest fund raiser of the year,” Tubbs said.
A fishing contest was started a decade ago with more activities added over the years.
No alcohol is allowed at the township park but where people congregate around a bonfire on the ice can stay warm with alcoholic beverages. But this area is monitored to maintain the event as family-friendly, the chief said.
Last year, several thousands of dollars were raised that enabled the fire department to purchase a large, upright air compressor for fire and rescue and training dummies the sizes of an adult and child. Tubbs said these life-size substitutes are used in scenarios such as drownings, structure fires and when a hunter may fall out of a deer stand.
The department has 19 volunteer firefighters “and we are always looking for more,” the chief added.
Young people 16 and 17 years of age are invited to train as cadets. They reach firefighter status at age 18.
Auxiliary membership is open to the public. It is a separate nonprofit group created to support the fire department. “Women and men belong to the auxiliary and membership is not limited to Garfield Township residents,” Tubbs said.
A subcommittee of the auxiliary plans the Winterfest, which also draws support from the Crooked Lake Improvement Association.