Willow Winter Carnival and Big Lake Winter Fest keep riders busy
Who says you need to be on a beach in Miami to enjoy a wet T-shirt contest? Well, maybe the term “wet” is exaggerated. In the middle of winter, it’s better called a Frozen T-shirt contest.
And, in fact, that’s what it is. This year’s annual Big Lake Winter Fest features the Frozen T-shirt contest, Bunny Boot Bling, sled dog rides, snowmachine races and more.
The event is still in the planning stages, but as usual, it is timed with the start of the Iron Dog snowmachine race, which is its intent. The weekend-long festival not only celebrates winter, but fills in the gap between the start of Iron Dog’s two race classes. Trail-class racers set off Friday, Feb. 14, and the pro-class racers leave the 16th. That gives festival-goers an entire day in-between to enjoy music, food, mini-snowmachine races, dog sled rides – and more – on the lake.
One of the annual draws is the helicopter rides with Jayhawk, and the presence of the National Guard, which last year supported the much-appreciated warming tents. There will also be snowmachine races for the kids on the 15th, followed on the 16th by dog sled rides for little ones, too – that event hosted by the Aurora Dog Mushers Club out of Big Lake.
And don’t miss the ever-popular beer garden and live music, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15. As for the Frozen T-shirt Contest? Well, that one is still in the works, but don’t miss it. For details on the developing agenda, go to www.biglakewinterfest.com.
WILLOW WINTER CARNIVAL
The depth of winter is the height of fun in Willow, where plentiful snow lures snowmachiners, dog mushers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The two-weekend carnival – set for Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2 – kicks off with a fireworks display and dinner the night of Jan. 24. The dinner includes an auction to help raise money for local causes.
“The Willow Area Community Organization puts on Carnival as their biggest fundraiser,” said Jaimee High, who was the organizer of last year’s event and is helping with this year’s as well. “With the money we raise from Carnival, it helps keep the Community Center open year round and helps fund things for the community to enjoy.”
Money is used to maintain trails, help firefighters purchase new equipment, fund the community’s annual Grandparents Day and more, she added. The community is currently working on creating a 40-acre park, and money from this year’s event will help fund that.
This year’s carnival includes the Earl Norris Dog Sled Race (held the first weekend) and the Radar Run, scheduled for the second weekend, which pits snowmachiners to see how far/how fast their machines can go on a short course measured by radar gun. There is a small fee for the event, but event details were still being finalized, High said.
Also, High noted, the carnival is the official State Winter carnival – “so it is all part of our history and we want to keep it alive,” she added.
For details on lodging in the area, contact the Willow Area Community Organization, at www.waco-ak.org.
Willow Winter Carnival
Kickoff dinner, auction and fireworks on Jan. 24
Carnival runs Jan. 25-26 and Feb. 1-2
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.
Tickets: Parking fee TBD
Questions? 495-6969 or 775-3070
Big Lake Winter Fest
Festival runs Feb. 15 and 16
Hours: 10 a.m. until right after the concert ends, around 7 p.m.
Sunday, events start at 10 a.m., with the Iron Dog Pro Class riders leaving at 11 a.m.
Questions? Festival director Ina Mueller, email@example.com or 230-0935
Also, don’t miss Homer Winter Carnival
“Dancing in the Streets” is the theme of this 50th anniversary celebration that will include snowshoe softball, outhouse races and, on Feb. 8, a 120cc kids snowmachine event, sponsored by Snomads of Homer. The festival runs Feb. 6-9, and is free. For more details, see the group’s insert in this month’s issue of Alaska SnowRider, or visit their Facebook page.