Author Edith Sitwell wrote “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
(See our Winterfest Photo Gallery Here)
Saturday’s Winterfest, organized by Saline Main Street, lived up to that for hundreds of people who participated in their hometown winter festival.
Mayor Brian Marl said Winterfest, like so many other events in Saline, make the city what it is.
“Saline offers an exceptional quality of life. Organizations in the city provide numerous activities and endeavors that enrich the lives of our citizens,” Marl said. “Winterfest is a great recreational outlet for our town. I applaud all the volunteers who make this happen, and especially those people who created this event three years ago, because this fills a void. There was an absence of activities in the winter, so Winterfest is a great addition to our events schedule.
In the morning, local running enthusiasts warmed up on a beautiful winter day by going for a 5K run through Saline. They started at Saline City Hall, headed to Brecon Park, ran along the new trail to the library, and then turned around and headed back to city hall.
Saline High School sophomore Jack McGreal was the first runner over the finish line. He said running a 5K in the winter wasn’t so bad.
“You warm up pretty quick. I thought they did a nice job clearing the trail of snow. It wasn’t too slippery out there,” McGreal said.
There were about 45 entrants who took off then the members of the Massachusetts Provincial Battalion re-enactors fired their muskets just after 9 a.m. The race benefited the Saline Middle School cross country team and the Mike Smith Scholarship.
All morning, students from Washtenaw Community College carved ice sculptures at businesses downtown.
The kids’ games and crafts, sponsored by Bank of Ann Arbor, was a big hit in the former location of the Spotted Dog.
Activities shifted to Henne Field early in the afternoon.
Families and friends enjoyed the free skate around the ice rink at Henne Field. Brooke and Dave Sharp watched their daughter, Kimberly, skate for the first time.
People warmed up with hot chili served by the Saline Area Fire Department. Proceeds from the sale will help aspiring Eagle Scout Andrew Bonczyk build a new community billboard sign at the fire hall. The salty and sweet kettle corn made fresh by Mystic Kettle was also a popular item.
Members of the Massachusetts Provincial Battalion re-enactors provided living history lessons.
In the absence of the Snowman Building Competition of the Free World, called off earlier in the week by other competing communities due to the lack of snow, the Saline Rec Center organized games of dodge ball.
Families also gathered to make and decorate snowmen. The winners of the snowmen decorated contest, as judged by Mayor Marl and Saline Main Street’s Jill Durnen, were Sarah and Jessie Corrigan, who made a “super hero snow cat.”
Marl presented them with a trophy, donated by Durnen and Hartman Insurance.
Durnen said the event was a success.
“The weather cooperated and lots of people had a really fun time,” said Durnen, who estimated that 20 volunteers helped make the event happen.
For the second straight year, the Snowman Building Championship of the Free World was canceled. The other competing communities canceled earlier in the week. But then three or four inches of snow fell. The event was a big draw in 2012, when the Saline team built 480 snowmen in two hours.
Durnen said that if there’s snow on the ground for Winterfest 2014, there will be some kind of snowman building contest.
“Even if the other communities do not compete, we’re going to have our own snowman building event. We might have corporate teams or family teams come down and compete, because it’s a really fun event,” Durnen said.
Even without the contest, Durnen was pleased with the turnout at Henne Field.
Winterfest was sponsored by Saline Main Street, with the support of Bank of Ann Arbor, LaFontaine Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Bill’s Barber Shop, Brecon Grille, Oxygen Plus, Saline Optometry, Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, the Saline Rec Center and Hartman Insurance.