BREWER, Maine — Even though there is a lack of white fluffy stuff on the ground, this weekend’s eighth annual Brewer Winterfest is a go, event chairwoman Cindy Benson said Monday.
“We’re suppose to get snow every day this week,” she said, adding that the predicted snowfall amounts aren’t expected to add up to much. For many of the events, “we really don’t need snow,” Benson said.
Winterfest is designed to bring together young and old from all over the region for wintertime fellowship. The two-day festival is being split among four locations within the city — the Muddy Rudder Restaurant, Brewer Auditorium, Doyle Field and the outdoor hockey rink on Acme Road.
“This is a community celebration,” said Benson, who also is the Muddy Rudder banquet dining room manager.
Skating, sledding and the snow softball tournament are three Winterfest events that require snow or cold weather, so whether they are held this year is tied directly to the weather, said Ken Hanscom, Brewer Parks and Recreation director.
“There is nothing on those fields right now,” he said. “We’ve been making ice consistently at the Acme Road outdoor hockey rink,” where lighting has been added for night skating, and at the Doyle Field rink. However, “it hasn’t been cold enough to make ice, and we’re slowly loosing ice,” Hanscom said.
The Winterfest committee will determine later this week whether those three events are canceled, he said.
No matter what Old Man Winter throws at the region this week, the plan is to create fellowship while watching the Penobscot River winter fireworks display 7 p.m. Friday, while judging the chili and chowder cook-offs at noon Saturday and at the bonfire Saturday night, Benson said.
“It’s about getting everyone” together, she said.
This year, 10 area restaurants or catering businesses are competing for the right to say they serve the best chili or chowder around. The free cook-offs begin at noon Saturday and run until 2 p.m. The Muddy Rudder’s seafood chowder and “dress-your-own” chili won the titles last year.
As usual, professional ice sculptor Jeff Day of Ice Designs in New Hampshire will kick off the two-day event by creating a sculpture, which he will begin Friday during the day. His designs usually are visible from the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge and are lit at night with colored lights.
Plans for Friday evening include skating, sledding, a reception with live music and the fireworks display.
A Kiwanis French toast breakfast kicks off Saturday’s festivities, which also include children’s games hosted by Penquis, both at the Brewer Auditorium, the snow softball tournament at Doyle Field, and more skating and sledding.
Also that day, ice artists hoping to take home a trophy for their work will be given two blocks of ice and four hours to sculpt them into tropical-themed designs. They begin their work at 10 a.m. on the banks of the Penobscot River and must be done by 2 p.m., when the awards will be given for the best ice sculpture, chili and chowder. The amateur ice designs also remain along the river and are lit up at night.
While most of the events are free because of area sponsors, donation boxes will be set up throughout the venues, and “any proceeds made from Winterfest go to Keep Kids Warm program,” Benson said.
The Penquis program provides emergency heating assistance to low-income households that demonstrate a need but don’t qualify for federal assistance.
A complete list of Brewer Winterfest 2010 events is available at the city’s Web site, brewerme.org, and in The Weekly, which comes out Thursday.