'Winterfest' combines cold, community at Fairport Harbor Memorial Park

Jan. 28—Unlike its New Year's Day 'Port Plunge, held at Lake Metroparks Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park, which saw scads of masochists diving into the waters of Lake Erie in typical and traditional, winter weather, the Fairport Harbor Arts and Culture Alliance kicked off its second fête to perceptible fog and on-and-off drizzle, with no traces of snow.

In fact, the natural look of winter was completely lacking, so much so that two sledding-based activities were nixed.

However, the nonprofit's inaugural "Winterfest" did have the feel of the season, with dipping temperatures, which had attendees, from 3 to 8 p.m., hankering for hot chocolate, and, of course, alcoholic refreshments, and huddling around fire pits conveniently stationed in village's Memorial Park.

"I think it is colder today (Jan. 27) than it's been most of this week," said Madison Township resident Ann Febel, patrolling the park and sidestepping pockets of mud. "Still, it's fun. They've kind of thought of everything to have here."

Featuring live musical performances from Altered Generation and The Loose Tooth Band, the community event also served up a variety of victuals from CLE Chicken, Manna Food Truck, Smoke This — Craft BBQ, and Rabbit Food.

Festgoers also enjoyed ax throwing, beersbee, bottle toss, flip cup, life-size pong, and cornhole, in addition to a photo booth, a "Best Sweater" dog contest, presented by Mentor-based Posh Pet Boutique and Grooming, and an assortment of craft activities, and highly coveted heat, for mini-revelers at Fairport Harbor Congregational Church.

Multiple vendors were also on-site.

Fairport Village Administrator Amy Cossick noted the alliance had been looking to host a winter event for some time.

"Their effort and enthusiasm are greatly appreciated, regardless of weather," she said. "They are full speed ahead."

The organization serves to support the growth of the arts and culture community in Fairport Harbor.

Based on the alliance's success hosting the "Live at the Lighthouse" concert series over the past three years, the group decided to sponsor several winter programs to increase tourism in Fairport Harbor.

According to alliance Co-Chairman Justin Levine, "We hope (the event) will spike sales and traffic at some of our year-round shops, restaurants, and museums, and allow visitors to see the beauty of our area in winter."

For more information about the Fairport Harbor Arts and Culture Alliance, visit www.fhaca.org/#/.