News of Otsego County

Cooperstown Winter Carnival

Lions’ Poster Contest Seeks ‘We’re All Connected’ Entries

2021 Cooperstown Winter Carnival

Lions’ Poster Contest Seeks

‘We’re All Connected’ Entries

COOPERTOWN – The Cooperstown Lions Club is sponsoring a youth Peace Poster Contest on the theme, “We’re All Connected,” in conjunction with the 2021 Cooperstown Winter Carnival.

The local winner will receive $250.  Participants must be 11, 12 or 13 years old on Nov. 15, 2021.    The winning poster will also be submitted to the Lions district for further judging and possible higher state and international level consideration and awards.

Lights Dim At Vets’ Club As Speakeasy Takes Over


Lights Dim At Vets’ Club

As Speakeasy Takes Over

Multi-Color Quilts On Show At 22 Main

Beware!  Gangsters and their molls have taken over the Cooperstown Veterans’ Club until 9 p.m. this evening, and there’s hooch aplenty to be had by all at the Speakeasy there. Al Capone?  No, but, from left,  in from Chicago were Kristin Bergene and James McDonald, Kate and Jess Lanza, Hannah Bergene and Henry Bauer, and Molly Meyer and Karl Lowenguth.   After 9, you may want to make the rounds of Cooley’s, the Upstate Bar & Grill and, after 10:30 p.m., Alex Bistro’s where the 2020 Cooperstown Winter Carnival festivities will continue.  Inset at right, it was a more sedate crowd this afternoon at the Cooperstown Art Association at Village Hall, where Maureen Culbert fills out a ticket the raffle that will continue to the end of the Fenimore Quilt Show; at right it Margaret Lettis, overseeing the raffle.  The show continues through Feb. 23.  More fun tomorrow! (Jim Kevlin/

2020 Winter Carnival Features Mac, Cheese, More

2020 Winter Carnival

Features Mac, Cheese, More

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


Hanna Bergene, 2020 Cooperstown Winter Carnival co-chair, warns that things could get cheesy.

“New this year is a mac and cheese contest at the Carnival closer,” she said. “We heard from the restaurants that the chicken wing contest was kind of stale – and who doesn’t love mac and cheese in the middle of winter?”

The contest will be free, allowing all the carnival goers to taste samples from almost a dozen restaurants at Upstate Bar & Grill.

And if that doesn’t fill you up, you can head over to the annual Grilled Cheese For a Good Cause at The Farmer’s Market, to benefit Otsego 2000. “It’s going to be a very cheesy Sunday,” she joked.

This year’s carnival has a “Roaring 20s” theme. “It’s glitzy, it’s glam, it’s a little mysterious,” said Bergene. “We wanted to give 2020 a fresh start.”

And what’s a Roaring 20s party without a speakeasy and some dancing? “We’ve got eight local restaurants making 1920s cocktails for the cocktail contest,” she said. “And everyone is really excited to dress up.”

The Speakeasy will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Vet’s Club, and there are prizes for best flapper and most dapper, while Hanzolo will be on hand to help guests dance the night away.

They expanded the carnival to beyond downtown Cooperstown, with the lip-synch contest – dubbed “The Roaring 20s Showdown” hosted 6-9 Friday, Feb. 7, at Brewery Ommegang.

“Ommegang had a great interest in being involved this year and we were open to the idea of it,” she said. “They’re an excellent venue and the lip-synch is always a good time.”

Also new this year is the expanded lineup of trunk shows and pop-up shops, with extra shopping opportunities at Kate’s Upstate, Tin Bin Alley and All About The Girls.

“Kate Lanza at Kate’s Upstate has done pop-ups before with Natalie Wrubleski’s Champagne Hippy and Karen Katz jewelry,” said Bergene. “We worked with the downtown businesses to make a weekend of shopping.”

But it’s not just the adults who can have fun. “We wanted to bring back the event for all types of people,” she said.

For kids, there’s a “Meet the Heroes” event, where they can meet fire fighters and see the fire trucks, as well as a “Storytime with Frosty” at the Village Library.

The Carnival is also partnering with the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and The Farmers Museum to host activities for families in Pioneer Park.

“It’s my first Winter Carnival!” said Tara Burke, executive director. “We brainstormed with the carnival committee and they were looking for some more family-friendly activities. We were happy to help out.”

Kids can make their own bejeweled snowflakes. “Paint could freeze, so we got markers and jewel stickers,” said Burke.

JV and Varsity Baseball teams will host a wiffle ball home-run derby – yes, in the snow! – to raise money for their spring training camp, and the Susquehanna SPCA will host a Brooks chicken barbecue at the Christ Episcopal Church Parish Hall.

Grilled Cheese Fundraiser For Otsego 2000 Packs ‘Em In


Grilled Cheese Fundraiser

For Otsego 2000 Packs ‘Em In

The Rev. Joe Perdue, Cooperstown Baptist Church, and his wife, Julia, left, flank the Rev. Elsie Rhodes, First Presbyterian Church, at Grilled Cheese for a Good Cause, which drew 250 supporters of Otsego 2000 Sunday evening to The Cooperstown Farmers’ Market. The event, $30 a head, was the closing event of the 2019 Cooperstown Winter Carnival. Mel’s at 22, the Ommegang Café Alex’s World Bistro, Doubleday Café and Rock Hill Farm created exotic sandwiches; Marjorie Landers and The Otesaga provided desserts. The wine came from Pail House Vineyard, Fly Creek, and the beer from Ommegang. (Jim Kevlin/
Attending Since Beginning, Bill, Carol Waller Remember Cooperstown Carnival Heyday



Attending Since Beginning,

Bill, Carol Waller Remember

Cooperstown Carnival Heyday

Bill Waller, who is still active in the Cooperstown Winter Carnival – this year, he devised the clues for’s $500 Medallion Hunt – shows off memorabilia on the site of the early celebrations – atop frozen Otsego Lake. (Ian Austin/

Editor’s Note: This feature story first appeared in the section of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal published last Thursday and Friday.  This year’s 52nd annual carnival ends this evening.


Cars race on Otsego Lake during an early Winter Carnival.

COOPERSTOWN – If you looked out and saw cars out on Otsego Lake today, you would probably call a tow truck.

But in 1974, when Bill Waller was Cooperstown Winter Carnival chairman, it was all part of the fun.

“We had all sorts of events on the lake – Just as long as the ice was 18-inches thick,” he said.

Back then, chief among the favorite activities was the annual gymkhana, where cars would race through cones across Otsego Lake’s ice.

“When we came up for the first Winter Carnival in 1969, I saw all these cars out on the ice,” said Waller. “I took my car out, but I had the wrong tires on, so I didn’t do very well.


Soup R’ Chili Served ’til 2 As Festive Weekend Starts


Soup R’ Chili Served ’til 2

As Festive Weekend Starts

As it has for more than a quarter-century, the Cooperstown Winter Carnival begins when Dick Sliter declares, “Soup’s on!”  The carnival’s traditional first event, the Soup R’ Chili luncheon at the First Baptist Church, 21 Elm St., is underway until 2 p.m.  (and again 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday).  Sliter, a retired pastor who came out of retirement in the past year to fill in at the Columbus Community Church, west of  West Edmeston, has been head cook at this event for 26 years now.  Inset is Dick’s wife Gail, who has a lot of heart, including heart-shaped cookies, also available. (Jim Kevlin /


Bassett Exec Finds Winter Carnival Medallion

Bassett Executive Finds

Winter Carnival Medallion

Frank Panzarella, Network Vice President & COO, Bassett Medical Group, found the Cooperstown Winter Carnival medallion last night in Badger Park. With him is his son, Frankie, who helped him located it near the skating rink, thanks to clues in The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta newspapers. This triumphant picture was posted on his Facebook account.
Cold Cash, Grilled Cheese Close Out Winter Carnival


$500 Check, Grilled Cheese

Close Out Winter Carnival

The Doubleday Cafe’s Tim Searles, above,  prepares specialty grilled-cheese sandwiches made with goat cheese and elderberry jam at Grilled Cheese For A Good Cause at the Cooperstown Farmer’s Market Sunday evening; the Otsego 2000 fundraiser wrapped up the 51st annual Cooperstown Winter Carnival.  Behind him Jim Hoffmann, Cooperstown, gets a bowl of soup from volunteer Susanna Membrino . The event  featured live music, ice cream and of course, grilled cheese made special by many area eateries.  In inset photo, Winter Carnival Committee chairman Rich McCaffery, right, congratulates  Katie Marvel of Oneonta and her boyfriend,  John Janitz, Jr. of Fly Creek, on receiving a $500 check for finding this year’s Winter Carnival medallion at Council Rock.  The presentation was made at Cooperstown Distillery; the medallion hunt is sponsored by The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta. The couple plans on going out to a nice dinner to celebrate. (Ian Austin/




…And There’s More To Come...

As the crowd looks across Otsego Lake from Lakefront Park, the grand finale bursts over the Leatherstocking Golf Course a few minutes ago.  But another day of Cooperstown Winter Carnival Fun lies ahead, from a pancake breakfast at the Vets Club, 8-11:30, 60 Main St.; to  free-throw and three-point competitions at the Clark Sports Center at 11; to the Winter Carnival Ice Breaker, food and fun at the Cooperstown Distillery, 11 Railroad Ave., 2-4:30.  Tonight, enjoy bands at The Farmers Market, Cooley’s and the Pratt.  Check the calendar for details.  ( photo)

Grilled Cheese For A Good Cause


GRILLED CHEESE NIGHT – 5 – 7 p.m. Enjoy comfort food from local chefs as well as local beer, wine, cider, live music, more. Proceeds benefit Otsego2000 & Otsego Outdoors. Cost, $25/adult, $15/child. Cooperstown Farmers Market, 101 Main St., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-8881 or visit

SNOWSHOE WALK – 10:30 a.m.-Noon. Look for signs of life past, present and future with a guide from OCCA. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-4488 or visit

Action Now At Lakefront: Sledding, Horses, More


Action Now At Lakefront: 

Sledding, Horses, More

The sledding hill at Lakefront Park is packed as Cooperstown Winter Carnival fun shifts there this afternoon. Matthew Perrino, Max Koffer and Brenin Dempsey, top photo, join the fun; also available for sledding are large, inflatable sleds, with a giant Duck able to carry five kids at a time. At right, Owen Nolan, 9, tries out sugar on ice as Farmers’ Museum docent Pat MacGregor advises. Owen’s mom Stephanie and brother Aidan look on. There are also pony rides and wagon rides. The activities at Lakefront culminate with fireworks at 6, but bands and fun are planning throughout downtown this evening. (Jim Kevlin/

Following In Fire Chief’s Footsteps,Tallman Grandkids At Open House

Following In Fire Chief Footsteps,

Tallman Grandkids At Open House

Village Fire Chief Jim Tallman’s grandkids dipped their toes in the water this morning at the Cooperstown Fire Department “Heroes” Open House at the fire hall on Chestnut Street this morning, part of the 26th annual Cooperstown Winter Carnival. Visiting from the Albany area, Chief Tallman’s daughter-in-law Allison brought Claire, 4, and Nolan, 20 months, to witness firefighting demonstrations and other activities. The state police had a contingent, and the dean of the EMS squad, Fred Lemister, was demonstrating the Autopulse, a new apparatus that allows CPR to be administered automatically in the ambulance en route to the emergency room. How often has it been used? “Too often,” Lemister replied with his characteristic dry wit. (Jim Kevlin /
Frank Wilsey Claims Laurels At Annual Bob Smullens 5K


Frank Wilsey Claims Laurels

At Annual Bob Smullens 5K

A determined Alexander Kahn (108) led runners off the starting line at this morning’s Bob Smullens 5K Run, part of the 26th annual Cooperstown Winter Carnival. But it was Christian Hill’s Frank Wilsey (116), in red top, who crossed the finish line minutes ahead of the second-place winner.  In this day where there’s a 5K or more every weekend, Clark Sports Center Special Events Coordinator Doug McCoy, the official at today’s race, noted the Bob Smullens, under various names, is Cooperstown’s oldest 5K.  (Jim Kevlin/
Soup ‘r’ Chili Luncheon Launches Weekend Fete


Soup ‘r’ Chili Luncheon

Launches Weekend Fete

For the 25th year, Cooperstown’s Dick Sliter pours broccoli and cheddar chowder at the Soup ‘r’ Chili celebration underway until 2 at Cooperstown Baptist Church, Elm Street. Sliter, a local businessman who has also acted as interim pastor for the local Baptists, first began ladeling at the event in 1993. The chowder, he said, contains 8 pounds of broccoli and 8 pounds of potatoes. The luncheon is the traditional start of the Cooperstown Winter Carnival, which has events planned throughout the weekend.  Soup ‘r’ Chili will also be served 11 a.m-2 p.m. Saturday at the Baptist Church.  (Jim Kevlin/

Carnival Free Throw


CHILDREN’S FREE THROW – 3-4 p.m. Elementary Free Throw contest for the Winter Carnival. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-2800 or visit

FAMILY COOKING – 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Learn to cook “Valentine Desserts” with Executive Chef Jim Perillo. Cost $99/adult + 1 child. Includes all materials. The Otesaga, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-9931 or visit

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103