It’s always hard to find outdoor activities and festivals in the winter season around here. So when I saw there was an outdoor winter festival in Rochester I thought Luke and I could check it out.
Luke and I decided to go to Mendon Ponds Winterfest near Rochester. Winterfest is an outdoor festival put on by several Rochester organizations. It is a very popular event that has more than 5, 000 guests that has been happening for the last 10 years.
The schedule for the festival included snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing races, sled dog races, a fly-in from Mercy Flight Helicopter, and skate-sailing on the pond and more. The events were spread out among the different hills and areas of the park.
So we parked at the northern entrance bundled up and set out to walk around. We first saw the snow-shoeing club who was lending out snowshoes to people for short walks around and talking to them about their planned hikes for the day. Around the corner was also horse drawn carriages for people to get a tour of the park.
We turned to the left and saw the smaller sledding hill and an indoor facility where there were children’s activities including face painting, petting zoo/animal education, puzzles, games, and crafts such as pinecone bird feeders. They were also selling warm food including chili and mac and cheese to the adults as they watched their kids slide down the hill.
We got a map of the park along with the activities lists and decided to walk to the pond. It was not very windy so the skate-sailing demos were over for the day. But people were still invited out onto the frozen pond and the sails brought bright color to the grey sky. There at a covered picnic area was also information about local fishing and hunting in the area.
We went over to the field where the snow-shoe races had just finished and went inside a meeting room. There we found information about many winter outdoor clubs and organizations in the area. We talked with the Nordic Ski group who hosted the cross-country skiing races earlier in the day and the local orienteering group who also gave a sample course that we wish we had known about earlier in the day. We decided we may be interested in orienteering and signed up to get information. We picked up a few outdoor organization’s newsletters and got a cup of coco.
As we shared our coco we watched the older kids come down the larger hill by the field. We also waited for the mercy flight helicopter to fly-in and land on the field. We enjoyed watching everyone walk their dogs who were also enjoying exploring the snow. After this we decided to take the long walk back to the car as activites were wrapping up for the day and we were getting hungry.
We enjoyed getting out on our winter walk, learning more about ways to get exercise and get outside in the winter, and watching families enjoying the cold season.