Now in its 55th year, the Cooperstown Winter Carnival blows back into our community on the cold, wintery winds that February brings year in and year out. Luckily, the volunteer-based Winter Carnival Committee has plans to warm the spirits of carnival goers with both fresh and familiar offerings throughout the duration of this year’s event.
After what felt like an eternity, albeit just two years of dormancy, the Winter Carnival returns during the first week of February. Kicking off on Thursday evening, February 2 with hot chocolate-fueled fireworks over a lakeside viewing party at The Otesaga Resort Hotel—and continuing until Sunday, February 5 with “Grilled Cheese for a Good Cause”—there is plenty fun and enjoyment to be had by all who attend. The schedule includes such fan-favorites as “The Bob Smullens 5K/10K Race” and the “Lions Club Pancake Breakfast,” as well as first-time additions “Meet Your Local Heroes” and “Open Pickleball Play.”
COOPERSTOWN – Friends of the Village Library is already preparing for its popular Winter Book Sale, to be held February 3-5 during the 2023 Winter Carnival Weekend.
From 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday, November 19, FoVL will host a book collection in the Village Hall Board Room at 22 Main Street. Used books in good condition are welcome, along with CDs, DVDs and audio books. Textbooks and outdated travel books, however, will not be accepted.
“The Cooperstown community is incredibly generous in donating used books for the sales,” said Lynne Mebust, FoVL board member and co-chair of the Book Sale Committee along with Ivy Bischof. “While some book collections are more successful than others due to factors such as weather, timing, publicity, etc., I estimate that we collect somewhere between 3,000-5,000 books per collection day.”
VIRTUAL CONCERT – 7 p.m. Dance to local alt rock band Hanzolo in the safety of your home this Cooperstown Winter Carnival. Visit www.cooperstownwintercarnival.com for info.
COVID-19 TESTING – 8 a.m. Free rapid testing for people with no symptoms of Covid-19. Appointments required. Oneonta Health Center, 125 Main St., Oneonta. 607-433-6510 or visit www.bassett.org/covid-19
ICE FISHING – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Bring the kids out to learn ice fishing from State park staff and NYS DEC ‘I Fish NY.’ Free, registration required due to Covid. Glimmerglass State Park, 1527 Co. Rd. 31, Cooperstown. 607-547-8662 or visit www.facebook.com/GlimmerglassStatePark/
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.
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)