Oak Creek revives annual winter festival
February 24, 2013
Oak Creek — Winterfest in Oak Creek likely is to be the only time Irene Hoff can throw an egg at her mayor without getting into any trouble.
"It was actually very fun," the 9-year-old said Sunday about her experience at the winter festival’s egg toss event that resulted in Mayor Nikki Knoebel getting hit with some yolk.
After a six-year hiatus, Winterfest returned to the South Routt County town Sunday.
The return delighted many residents who struggled to remember or weren’t able to attend previous installments of the festival that has nearly as much history in Routt County as Steamboat Springs’ Winter Carnival.
Town historian Mike Yurich said he was reading up on some of the history of the event in January when he suggested to Knoebel that it be revived.
"February is kind of a dead time for us up here," Yurich said. "We have a new group of younger people in town who are eager to take part in these activities. Hopefully we can get this thing going again and continue it."
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He said he remembers the winter festivals in Oak Creek in the 1960s that featured ski jumping on the town’s Cowboy Hill.
Irene’s mom, Julie Hoff, said Sunday that annual events like Winterfest continue to showcase the closeness of the community.
"We live here because of stuff like this," she said.
This year, the town didn’t bring back the skijoring and jumping events that marked the previous winter festivals.
But the town made due with other entertaining offerings.
The egg toss was one of many highlights on a day that saw more than 50 people tube, sled, ice skate and play softball on snowshoes.
Then, they gathered outside an ice rink for some chili and prepared to do some cross-country skiing under the moonlight.
"Anytime we can get friends and families in our community outside to do something active together, it’s a great thing," Knoebel said as some parents near her played a scrimmage game of hockey with their kids.
Like many Winterfests that preceded it, this year’s festival allowed many residents to do many unique things for the first time.
Irene experienced her first egging of a town official.
Many participants never had combined the art of hitting a softball with the joy of snowshoeing.
And Lupita Jaconetta never skated on ice before Sunday.
"I’m glad they brought this back," Lupita’s mother, Paula, said near the conclusion of their first Winterfest experience. "It has such a good community vibe."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com