It may be cold, but things will heat up downtown Jan. 28-30 when the New Baltimore Lions Club hosts the popular Winterfest 2011.
Themed "Freezin' for a Reason," the festivities are expected to attract thousands of people, New Baltimore Planning and Economic Development Director Judy Sproat said.
"This is a great winter event that promises something for everyone in the family," Sproat stated in an e-mail. "From the famous Chili Cook-Off to warm your tummy to the Polar Bear Plunge that will certainly cool your toes, the festival brings so many people to downtown New Baltimore."
In the evening of Jan. 28, live entertainment will take place in a large white tent on Washington Street while attendees can browse local downtown businesses that will remain open during the festival.
On Jan. 29, a Kid's Party will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the New Baltimore Recreation Center on Washington Street. According to Mary Rutledge, co-chair of the Polar Bear Plunge, children from toddlers to 10 year olds will enjoy playing games for prizes and tasting kid-friendly foods, such as hot dogs, chips and cookies. A snowman-building contest might also take place if enough packable snow graces the city.
A two-day Fishing Tournament will start early morning Jan. 29 and wrap at 3 p.m. Jan. 30. Prizes will be awarded for largest fish caught in various categories. Registration and a $10 entry fee is required. Proceeds fund three different dollar prizes in amounts based on the number of participants. For more information, call Bob Gatfield at 586-531-1769.
Tasty smells will be wafting from a large tent downtown as the popular Chili Cook-Off begins at 6 p.m. Jan. 29. A $5 entrance fee allows you to sample all chili dishes and vote for your favorites to win prizes. A cash bar will also be at the cook-off.
Rutledge said that there is no fee for cooks to enter the contest and applications are available at Stahl's Bakery and the Recreation Center. A total of 32 participants will be allowed to showcase their chili. For more contest information contact Fred Kopson at 586-873-9160.
Anchor Bay area Boy Scout Troop 211 will host a pancake breakfast Jan. 30 at the Indoor Pavilion at Walter and Mary Burke Park. The donation-only event is scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to noon.
After fueling up on food, head over to the 10th Annual Polar Plunge at 2 p.m. with same-day registration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 30 along Washington between Main and Front streets. Plunge contestants ages 13 and older will collect donations in exchange for promising to jump into frigid Anchor Bay. The highest earner will be awarded a polar bear trophy during an awards ceremony following the event at 4:30 p.m. Last year, Michael's Family Restaurant in Chesterfield Township won the polar bear honor.
About 300 participants are expected to dip into Anchor Bay this year, Sproat said. Each team or individual participant who registers by Monday, Jan. 10 will receive a T-shirt and medallion. Registration forms are available at Stahl's Bakery and the New Baltimore Recreation Center. Call 586-716-3797 for more details.
All Winterfest proceeds are to benefit various charities supported by the Lions Club, including Leader Dogs for the Blind and New Baltimore's Recreation Youth Baseball, Rutledge said.
'The money we get goes right back into the charities," she said. "Also the Fire Department volunteers its time to help plunge participants in and out of the water…We are very, very lucky to have them."