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Joyce Endee

A seasonal tradition returns with Bristol's Winterfest

Horse-drawn wagon rides were among the many traditional New England activities offered to the local community during Bristolís annual Winterfest celebration Saturday. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
February 29, 2012
BRISTOL—On Saturday, Feb. 25, Bristol held its annual town-wide Winterfest event from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Bristol has held a Winter Carnival Day since 1923, when the Pasquaney Snow Shoe Club sponsored the event so many years ago.

The earlier winter carnivals, or Winterfests, as they are called today, consisted of events including snow shoeing, ice skating, ski jumping, parades, a dance and the crowning of Jack Frost and Miss Snowflake.

"The towns, historically, used to do town-wide carnivals, from the lake to the square, and do events like wood chopping and boxing," said Tapply-Thompson Community Center's Director of Recreation, Leslie Dion. "People used to come out and bring their families for the day, and enjoy it. There are some great pictures (from the Historical Society) of the old stuff."

Thought there were no wood chopping competitions or boxing matches in the line-up of events this year, the Tapply-Thompson Community Center and Slim Baker Area teamed up with NLRA and Bristol Lions / Leo's to put together a large list of events and activities, with attendance and activities growing from last year.

"Last year, we were up at Slim Baker, and we did everything there," said Dion. "We had a great turn out and good weather, with lots of snow, but parking is tough, so we said this year, let's try to make it more town-wide. So that's why we brought some of the events to Kelley Park, and some here and some up at Slim Baker."

Last year featured the Granite State Zoo, and that was such a hit, they were included in Winterfest again this year, but needed a larger space for the animals and presenters.

"Last year, the zoo presentation was in the Lodge at Slim Baker, which was a much smaller main room, and I bet there were 150 people there last year, so we had to give them a bigger space this year," said Dion. "People love the Granite State Zoo presentation. Kids love the big snake."

The Community Center picked up the cost for the zoo presentation, and Slim Baker picked up the cost for the Tracking and Winter Survival Program. With the event getting larger and larger each year, funding has started to become an issue.

"I think we will have to start to look at funding now because really, we do this with no budget," said Dion. "Slim Baker Area picked up the cost of the tracking and survival event, and we covered the zoo presentation, but we also added a DJ and wagon rides. We have to figure out how we will continue to keep growing."

Other Winterfest activities included a scavenger hunt, guided snow shoe hikes, face painting, music, a bonfire, snow testing, various kid's games, a chili cook off to benefit the Newfound Football Team and a story and crafts with the Minot Sleeper Library.

"It's been great and I think we'll just keep adding now," said Dion. "This has been a phenomenal turn out and we are looking forward to next year."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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