With snow finally on the ground, Lakeview and Howard City look to have proper winter festivals

Howard City’s annual two-day winter festival gets under way Jan. 22 and runs through the weekend, while Lakeview’s Winterfest this year will be held Feb. 22 and 23. (Photograph from The Daily News archive)


It came a little late but the snow is finally here and it’s time to think about outdoor fun. With both Lakeview and Howard City offering truly epic winter festivals, there’s plenty of small town fun happening during the frosty months.

Though both towns’ festivals are still in the late-planning stages, previous years’ experience indicates a good time will be had by all.

Lakeview’s Winterfest this year will be held Feb. 22 and 23, later than last year’s event, according to Chad Lincoln of the Lakeview Jaycees. Organizers decided to move it back from January to February after last year’s warm temperatures left snowmobilers — who turn out by the hundreds — with no place to ride their sleds.

“Hopefully, we’ll have some winter this year,” Lincoln said. “Friday and Saturday, of course, will be our heated and enclosed beer tent, featuring The

Guinness Brothers Band both nights. On Saturday, during the day, we’ll have a full day of vintage (snowmobile) racing, which is how the idea of Winterfest came to be in the first place.”

Other ideas being tossed around for this year’s event include a vintage snowmobile show, trail ride, polar dip, ice fishing tournament and maybe even a — shades of summer! — softball tourney.

“These extra events, of course, depend on having enough people to chair them,” Lincoln said.

Though the weather was uncooperative last year, at least in terms of snow and ice-related events, the beer tent was still a huge success. In Lakeview, the huge tent is set up right on main street, which is closed to traffic for the duration.

“Hopefully, between the weather this year and enough volunteers, we can have events for the whole family all weekend,” Lincoln said. “It’s worth mentioning that we will be raffling off a $1,000 Visa Gift Card this year. Stay tuned for complete details.”

For those who can’t wait until February to start their winter fun, Howard City’s annual two-day winter festival gets under way Jan. 22 and runs through the weekend.

Again, some events for the festival remain in the planning stages, but typically, Howard City fields an entertainment tent, live music at Zellie’s Opry House, a pancake breakfast, chili cook-off and plenty of snowmobile-related activities.

A sled decorating contest and parade always provides plenty of fun, as does the vintage snowmobile show.

According to Rob Zemla, whose West Michigan Snow Runners snowmobile club sponsors the event, turnout for the show and the accompanying rides is usually pretty good.

“Last year, we probably had around 50 entries in the vintage show,” Zemla said. “Then we have all the trail riders stopping in, so it winds up being close to 100 people.”

Zemla’s club has been organizing the vintage show for the past four years.

Other Howard City events include a host of kid’s activities, a sledding hill, snowmobile safety classes and several adult games like a bed race and tug-o-war.

A euchre tournament, arts show, “penguin polar plunge,” and live music jams round out the event.

Those interested in volunteering for this year’s event should call Howard City’s Panhandle Chamber at (231) 937-5681.

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