SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – The winter storm might have rendered the skating pond unusable and delayed the bonfire scheduled for Friday night because of high winds, but it also provided the snow pack necessary for the historical sledding events at the sixth annual Winter Carnival held at the Crown Point Country Club Feb. 7 and 8 where all activities and events were free both days. The weather took a toll on the massive pines and hemlocks that surround this property but also shrouded it with picturesque ice crystals that covered all of the trees and sparkled in the sunlight.
It was 22 degrees on Saturday, but the wind chill was 16. The sun came out for moments but most of the day the sky was blustery, and the wind was fierce. Make no mistake about this kind of cold, to stay outside for more than 10 minutes was brutal – tingling in fingers and faces happened fast. Although the weather caused some hiccups, it did not stop the hearty who have planned for this carnival all year.
On Saturday morning when The Shopper asked event director Andy Bladyka if weather would have an impact on scheduled races, he said, “Winter Carnival, winter weather.” Bladyka said Friday night was quieter than usual because of the strong winds and spotty power outages, but the John Sullivan Band played for an intimate setting of those guests that braved the outdoors to sit inside, stay warm, and enjoy the food and music.
Bladyka said he expected a good turnout that afternoon for the legendary snow events and said the cold was not a bad thing because people would go outside to watch the races and come inside often to get warm. For some people, like Cristine Campbell, the power was still out at home, but she said the weather and the snow was good for these events.
On Saturday, live radio was broadcast courtesy of WCFR, Springfield’s Rewind 106.5 FM. Troy Wunderle’s Big Top Adventures provided all kinds of inside entertainment and fun for the children, like Diabolo – a huge yoyo on a string with two sticks – hula-hoops, dish spinning, and giant floor checkers. There was face painting and even a table for teens.
Bladyka officiated the innovative and colorful cardboard sled and downhill kayak races and for each event he stood at the top of the hill and explained the rules of the road. He said typically the awards were given outside immediately after the races, but this day, the cold drove the ceremony inside. Hands and faces were covered to protect against the wind, but everybody was excited and ready to see whose sled creation would win the Bling, Spirit, and Speed awards.
This year, there were 11 entries and although five trophies were given in the main categories, everybody got a medal. Two entrants won for Bling and two for Spirit, but only one took the Speed award. This year that trophy went to “The Lamborghini” driven by Lucas LaCross. Lily Justice secured a Bling award for her “The Rainbow Dash” along with Ayden Stevens for his “Titanic,” which his parents said has been ready since Halloween when Ayden wore his sled as his costume. Spirit awards went to Elizabeth Warren for her “DeLorean” and to Haleigh Goodrich for “Team Goodrich.” Bentley Parker, Tristen Stagner, Julian Roberson, Jameson Clapperton who built his sled with Austin Tewksbury, Autymn Epler and Ryan Gould all received medals for their entries. The Shopper asked some of the parents if the sleds were tested before the main event and one said, “We don’t test them. We just put them together and let ‘em go!”
Bladyka announced the downhill kayak runoffs between two men he referred to as “downhill kayak legends.” North Springfield’s Russ Martin defended his champ status from last year and faced off against Tim Gould of Springfield. In the first race, Martin grabbed a time of 9.78 seconds to Tim Gould’s 10.04, but after a final round between the two men, Martin lost his first-place status to Gould.
A banner was strung across the front porch of the club that thanked Winter Carnival supporters: ARC Mechanical, Vermont Packinghouse, The Kurt Dechen Fund, third grader Charlie Keefe, Red House Press, Rewind 106.5, Members Advantage Community Credit Union, The Edgar May Health & Recreation Center, Springfield Cinema 3, SunCommon, Davidson Hill Builders, Kevin Heiden, Denise E. Photography, and Crown Point Excavation.
Fireworks sponsored by Kelley’s Sales and Service were held Saturday night while many people huddled by the bonfire to watch the bright lights explode over a canopy of snow and Bladyka said, “If you have never seen fireworks in the winter, it is something to see.”
The evening wrapped up with music by the Tricksters, and Bladyka said the band was phenomenal.