North Adams’ Annual WinterFest: Filled with Chowder, Smores, Sculptures and More

Ashley DelRatez, Staff Writer

This year’s WinterFest had a variety of acitivites available to the North Adams community. (photo by Ashley DelRatez)

On Saturday, February 18th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. North Adams held their annual WinterFest celebration downtown. This festival got locals out and into the streets celebrating the winter season and the community all at once. 

According to North Adams’ Event Coordinator, Lindsay Randall, there were thirteen events going on downtown. 

“We have ice carvings, hot cocoa, and cookies with Mountain One Bank. We have a Craft Fair and the chowder cook-off both going on within 85 Main Street. There’s a Children’s Carnival at the First Baptist Church and a Spin-In at All Saints Episcopal Church. And we have a fire pit on Main Street with smores, horse carriage rides, and also a Children’s Reading with Mayor Macksey,” said Randall. 

Along with all of this, the Veteran’s Memorial Ice-Skating Rink was also hosting a free public skate session from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

When speaking of WinterFest in general Randall said, “I was born and raised in North Adams. I love having events for the community to come out and get together. You see people you haven’t seen in a while. Especially since COVID hit, it’s nice to now be able to come out and have a good day. Everything’s spread out for the most part, so it’s nice to run into folks and to have something to do that’s free for the family.” 

Because of COVID, certain WinterFest events had been restricted in previous years. But this year they were able to make it back to the lineup. “This is the first time we’ve had the chowder cook-off, since COVID hit. It’s been three years now,” they explained. The chowder cook-off is an event where local restaurants and schools cook up their best, and attendees can vote for their favorite to win. 

209 votes were cast. After WinterFest concluded, the results were as follows: 

First Place: Clear Sky/Nan’s Kitchen 

Second Place: Boston Sea Foods 

Third Place: Bounti-Fare 

Only in North Adams Award: Bounti-Fare 

The chowder tasting wasn’t the only event taking place within the Terra Nova Church space of 85 Main Street. This is also where twenty-six vendors set up and sold their arts and crafts from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

One of the many other things going on was the selection of ice sculpture carvings on Main Street, Eagle Street, and Holden Street. On Main Street, near the local restaurant Ramuntos, Don Boudreau was working on a sculpture with his family. 

“This is our 7th year of carving, and this sculpture is going to be a ladder firetruck,” Boudreau stated, “Out of all the ice carvings I looked at online this seemed to be the easiest one to do. And also, I’m a firefighter and my son’s a firefighter.” 

Don Boudreau and his family photographed with their ice sculpture that they made for WinterFest. This is their 7th year taking part in the festivities. (photo by Ashley DelRatez)

When asked about the experience of ice sculpting in general Boudreau stated, “It’s a lot of fun. I think people should give it a try. We had no experience doing this when we started doing it seven years ago as a family. We’d really never carved one before in our lives. If anybody else ever wants to try it they should just come out and give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose. And if it’s really horrible, don’t worry! It’s gonna melt!”

Just down Main Street, near the Emporium there was a community campfire for people to sit by, relax, and toast some marshmallows. 

All of these WinterFest events got a lot of people to come downtown, and at the same time got them to check out the local businesses on the streets too. 

Randall explained, “Every place has something going on inside of it. That’s all we could ask for, to have so many businesses booming. To encourage people to come downstreet, outside of WinterFest, and shop locally. We have so many great things to check out and be a part of. Hopefully, these events showcase these businesses to the people.” 

Businesses were definitely booming, with Bonnie Marks of the Plant Connector commenting, “WinterFest is absolutely wonderful. There couldn’t be better weather, and a lot of people are coming out and supporting us. We’re really thrilled.”  

Later on, prior to the children’s reading she was hosting, North Adams’ Mayor Jennifer Macksey stated, “Today is a great day for North Adams. We love it when our community comes out and hits our downtown. We’re got some wonderful activities going on and it’s just good to see the community together… This is what North Adams is all about. It’s all about building community and today is a perfect example of that.” 

She then went on to give props to Randall, “I want to give a lot of credit to Lindsay Randall who put the event together. This is her first big event for the city, and it’s been very successful.” 

If you’re interested in attending more downtown community events like WinterFest be sure to check for updates on where many local festivities are advertised.