Winterfest is this Saturday, Jan. 18 with free, fun, family friendly activities at Hills Creek State Park’s beach parking area in Charleston Township, eight miles from Wellsboro. The park’s GPS address is 111 Spillway Road, Wellsboro.
“Snow or no snow, ice or no ice, Winterfest 2020 is a go and everything’s free!” said Tim Morey, organizer. ”If there’s snow, it only gets better.”
Cold temperatures and snow are currently predicted for this Friday and Saturday: one inch on Friday and an additional 5.4 inches on Saturday.
“Our presenters are planning to be there. If visitors can drive safely to Hills Creek on Saturday and there is enough snow, the fun will increase,” Morey said.
“We don’t need a lot of snow for sledding down Beach Front Hill on tubes, toboggans, sleds and snowboards,” said Morey. “We do need at least five inches for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on park trails. If there is enough snow, we will hold the introduction to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing mini-clinics from 1 to 3 p.m. If there is not enough snow, the mini-clinics will be from noon and 2 p.m. and people will be shown how to select appropriate equipment to purchase. In that case, our plan is to end Winterfest at 2 p.m., too.”
Tubes and some sleds, ice skates, snowshoes and cross-country equipment will be available to sign out and use free; quantities are limited. Those who have their own equipment are encouraged to bring it.
The ice will not be open for fishing or skating on Saturday.
From 11:30 a.m. to noon, talks about ice harvesting and how ice was used to keep food cold before refrigeration will be presented. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will be a program with ice fishing tips on how to get started and demonstrations on land.
Visitors can hike on park trails or participate in different types of guided walks or hikes. At 10 a.m. will be a winter tree identification hike led by forester Steve Hoover. Tiadaghton Audubon Society members will hold impromptu birding walks between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and scheduled 30-minute birding walks at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Bring binoculars and cameras.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be fat-tired snow bike demonstrations. Tom Gibson of Milton is bringing the new, longer Tracker Skishoes he invented, a combination ski and snowshoe with a built-in traction device.
Free hot dogs and hot chocolate will be available to everyone until gone. Fire rings and burn barrels will help visitors stay warm.
Mel “Longknife” Stafford, a reenactor portraying an 18th century Eastern mountain man, will do pioneer-style outdoor cooking demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and give out free samples of his freshly made donuts.
Build a bluebird nesting box to take home between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. with all materials provided free.
At 12 p.m. and again at 1:30 p.m., “Meet the Owls of Pennsylvania, a 30-minute program for adults and children. Find out how to identify local owls by call and key features.
Snow and ice condition updates will be posted at www.stepoutdoors.org and on Facebook at Step Outdoors Tioga PA. For more information, call 570-724-4246 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.