It’s time to bundle up and shake off cabin fever during Saturday’s Winterfest in Amana.
In light of social distancing challenges, some events have been put on hold this year, like the popular log sawing contest and the evening Snowball Dance. The Festhalle Barn also will be closed, with masked-up activities instead centered on the history-laden Market Barn a couple blocks away, at 707 46th Ave., Amana.
Other events have joined the lineup, including the first Winterfest parade at 10 a.m. So far, it looks like most participants will be winter bicycling enthusiasts, but event organizers hope to grow the parade in coming years, to include floats and other typical parade entries.
“I’m sure it will be a small parade, since it’s the first time we’ve done it for Winterfest,” said Elise Heitmann, 25, of Amana, events and social media manager for Amana Colonies Festivals Inc.
“It started with the idea that we’ve got a couple local bike riders who enjoy fat-tire bike riding in the winter. They have a local group that usually participates in parades, so we thought if they were willing to ride in the winter, that would be a nice outdoor activity we can do that spans the whole town, instead of just centering everything in one location. So we’ve been reaching out to other local bike riders and bike shops to see if they know anyone who’s interested, and we’ve got a couple locals who are going walk alongside them in the parade.
“We’re hoping that we have a good turnout. We won’t be throwing candy or anything like that, but we’ll just have some fun riding around town, looking at different bikes and costumes,” she said. “We would welcome a float if somebody brings one, but we haven’t heard back about any floats this year, so hopefully next year.”
While the Snowball is on hold, visitors still can enjoy food, drinks and music by local country duo Randy and Cassie, during the new “Up to sNOw Good Party.” The event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. in the green space outside the Hotel Millwright, on the former woolen mill site, 800 48th Ave., Amana. The festivities then move across the street, with live music by Nick Stika from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Millstream Brewery Warehouse.
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Food — from fiery to family style to fancy — also is on the day’s menu, beginning with Open Fire Chili at 11 a.m. at the Market Barn. Amana firefighters will warm visitors from the inside out, until the chili’s gone. However, another thing that’s gone this year is the traditional Winterfest chili mugs, Heitmann noted.
Adults 21 and over can warm up, too, with the Winterfest Wine and Beer Walk from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $3, and participants can pick up a punch card and sample beverages at these sites: Fireside Winery in the Village, Prosit Wines, Ackerman Winery, White Cross Cellars and Millstream Brewing Co. Those who turn in completed cards will receive a free Winterfest Logo Wine Walk glass.
More wine will be flowing during the Ox Yoke Inn’s five-course Wine & Dine Dinner at 5:30 p.m., where each course will be paired with a glass of White Cross Cellars wine. Cost is $34.99 per person, and reservations are required by calling (319) 622-3409. For menu and details, go to oxyokeinn.com
Games and contests
The Market Barn area will be headquarters for a wintry mix of games from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A couple of the contests are branching out, including the Ham Put, where contestants see how far they can hurl an Amana ham. Kids can try their hand at that, too, by tossing a smaller Amana ham.
The competitions wrap up at 1 p.m. with the Best Beard contest. But you don’t have to grow a beard to qualify for prizes. A new twist this year is a “most creative mask” division, open to all ages and genders.
Participants can register on-site for all of the competitions, and masks are required.
Also at the Market Barn, an ice sculptor also will be wielding a chain saw at 11 a.m. to carve out some frozen artistry, and Colony Carvers will be on-site from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to create and sell wood carvings.
Want to learn a new outdoor game indoors? Kolonie Kubb team members will be in the Millstream warehouse behind the brewery from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to teach kubb (commonly pronounced “koob”), an ancient Swedish yard game.
Kids can burn off more energy and learn fun facts through the Winterfest Scavenger Hunt, featuring indoor and outdoor versions all day.
Junior sleuths can search inside the Amana Heritage Museum to answer 10 Amana history questions. Outdoors, they can walk the village to answer 10 questions about the town’s historic homes and businesses.
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Kids who dine off the children’s menu at the Ox Yoke Inn between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. will receive a Kinder Gift Bag. For an afternoon snack, they are invited to roast marshmallows around the bonfire in the Millstream Brewery Biergarten at 2 p.m.
The chance of snow in the forecast will only become worrisome if driving becomes an issue, Heitmann said. Being outdoors is especially good for body and soul during this pandemic winter, so activities will be held snow or shine.
“Part of the reason why I welcome the snow and I’m glad there’s snow, is that last year, we had really amazing snow for snowman building,” Heitmann said. “A lot of people had fun with their families after they’d done the games and they’d already eaten their chili, but they still wanted to be outside.
“They built snowmen and they had snowball fights, and that can go on any time anywhere in town. We’ve got a lot of open areas that are still covered in snow, so I’m hopeful that if the snow is that packed down, wet snow that makes a really great snowball fight, that everybody can spend as much time as they want outside.”
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If you go
• What: Amana Winterfest
• When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Games, contests, chili at the Market Barn, 707 46th Ave., Amana; other activities around town, including a parade at 10 a.m., Wine and Beer Walk ($3 ages 21 and over), food specials, music, and specials at area stores, including the High Amana General Store
• Information: Brochure and details at amanacolonies.com/things-to-do/festivals/winterfest