By: Staff Reports On: 10:05PM / Wednesday February 10, 2010
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Winterfest returns to the city on Feb. 27 but it won't be at the St. Elizabeth's Parish Center — this time it's heading back to downtown.
The City Council's new Community Development Committee is taking a hand in the annual event that, to put it kindly, had degenerated into a chowder contest. Everyone sort of stood around in the hall eating chowder. When it was gone, they left.
Oh yeah, there were llamas at the library. Great for kids but, well, eh for many people. And there was a wagon ride — if you were willing to stand out on an often frigid Main Street to wait for it. Oh, and the Mayor's Skating Party down at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink. Again, nice, but late in the day and cut off from anything happening nearly six hours earlier.
The whole affair was a bit discombobulated
This year, there's a concerted effort to focus (like a laser beam) on bringing as many of those scattered activities as possible in close proximity to stimulate pedestrian traffic along the main drag.
The main event returns from noon to 2 but in two locations — 49 Main St. in the former Mohawk Gift Shop ( and Hudson's Antiques) and at 77 Main St. in the former Moulton's General Store. No standing around slurping up chowder; attendees will have to walk between the locations. It's good exercise!
To keep up participants' energy in between the chowder stations, there'll be marshmallow roasting on the sidewalks. Kids' activities will be going on at 107 Main St., which will also offer a place to warm up in-between carriage rides being sponsored by Hoosac Bank from 1 to 3.
Persnickety's Picky the Penguin will do a walkabout with other characters. At least one venue will be pouring hot chocolate.
The llamas will still be at the library for story time from 10 to 11; a tad further out, but still walking distance, will be a "Winter Shadow" light show and children's presentation being offered at 2 p.m. at Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
And, of course, the free skating party runs from 7 to 9 and the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe tramps the Main Street Stage at 7:30.
Did we mention the ice? Yes, ice sculpting will be happening on Main Street with whichever artists want to get involved. More stuff, too, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Organizers are urging businesses and shops along Main Street to get in on the action. Want to be included? Let Rod Bunt at the Mayor's Office of Tourism know if you've got anything special planned at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Why did this article make the Llamas at the Library seem like just fill in. More than 200 people show up each year to get a chance to learn about and pet a real Llama. It's a wonderful event that started more than 10 years ago and it's fun for families with school age and younger children.
It is a great event, Robin. But if you don't have kids or you're not into llamas, by itself it's not very compelling for the rest of the population.
My point was that the llamas were not a fill in - they were a major element. Winterfest was llamas, chowder and a carriage ride - none of which was conveniently close, timely or particularly well integrated.
I agree with Robin.
Be careful with your criticism, especially for past community events. Your piece sounds more negative than positive. Remember there were community members helping out with that "whole discombobulated affair" in past years. You can attract more bees with honey, especially worker bees.
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