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/AllOTSEGO.com)
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.
Editor’s Note: This feature story first appeared in the AllOTSEGO.life section of Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal published last Thursday and Friday. This year’s 52nd annual carnival ends this evening.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • For AllOTSEGO.life
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.
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 /AllOTSEGO.com)
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/AllOTSEGO.com)
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 www.otsego2000.org
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/AllOTSEGO.com)
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 www.facebook.com/clarksportscenter
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 www.otesaga.com
If you hustle down to the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market – right now! – you still may help judge the best chicken wings in Baseball’s Mecca. The competition, a perennial hit at the Cooperstown Winter Carnival, which winds up today, continues until 4:30 p.m. Serving the wings are, from left, Josh McMahon, Georgia Hren-Saphier, Claire Kepner, John Saphier and Shirley Tyler. In right photo, Parker Davidson, 7 months, on mom Marassa’s lap, seems in awe of a new delicacy. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)