SOUTH PORTLAND — Winterfest returns Friday, Jan. 30, with two days of seasonal activities including ice skating, competitive chili- and chowder-eating contests, organized snowshoe hikes, and a hockey tournament.
Hosted by the Rotary Club of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, Winterfest has become one of its largest annual events and is funded exclusively by donations from local businesses and residents.
This year the Rotary, which has about 60 members, has raised nearly $20,000 for the third annual event, Rotarian Alec Livingston said.
“Every penny that doesn’t go to the event goes back to the communities,” Livingston said.
Last year, approximately 1,700 people attended Winterfest, Rotarian and past board Chairman Tony Wagner said.
This year, Wagner and fellow Rotarians hope attendance will be more than 2,200. The anticipated increase in attendance is due, in part, to an increase in the number of participating businesses.
“There are a lot more businesses involved, more than 60,” Wagner said. Of the 60, 11 are major sponsors and have each donated between $750 and $4,500. This year’s major sponsor is Bath Savings Institution.
Winterfest begins with a Knightville block party from 4-6 p.m. Friday evening, Jan. 30, and a walk along a luminary-lined Ocean Street to Mill Creek Park, where participants will have the opportunity to play glow-in-the-dark Chuck-a-Puck on the pond, or enjoy leisurely ice skating. S’mores, hot chocolate and hot cider will be provided, courtesy of Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, Buy Local, and Tim Horton’s.
For those who prefer something more savory, a chicken wing-eating contest will conclude Friday’s events.
At 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Jan. 31, at the South Portland Community Center, early risers can enjoy a pancake breakfast, courtesy of the Cape Elizabeth Lions Club, with musical accompaniment by local Bluegrass and folk band, Seagrass.
The remainder of Saturday’s activities will take place at the Wainwright Recreation Complex outdoor skating rink, on Gary L. Maietta Parkway off Highland Avenue.
Activities at the complex will range from snow sculpting contests, to wagon rides, to turkey bowling.
For a complete list of Winterfest events is on the Rotary website.
Interact Club members from Cape Elizabeth and South Portland high schools created luminaries for the third annual Winterfest last week at Cia Cafe on Ocean Street in South Portland. They used several hundred empty milk jugs, which will be displayed outside in Knightville on the opening night of the third annual festival, Friday, Jan. 30.