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Winterfest tradition continues with new activities

Winterfest Committee Chairman Andy Johnson (right) presents Dave Graff with a check for $100 in Chamber Bucks after Graff found the Winterfest Medallion Tuesday on Sailboard Beach. (Ryan McGaughey/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Worthington’s Winterfest returns next weekend and is boasting some new events.

Winterfest Committee Chairman Andy Johnson said the Winterfest tradition continues Jan. 19-21 and attendees can expect many of the same activities, including the crowd-favorite Deep Freeze Dip, Red Hot Chili Cook-off and 2 mile walk. However, there are a couple of new events that Johnson is excited about.

One of this year’s new activities will actually serve as a Winterfest wrap-up, Johnson said. Country music stars Tim Montana and Chris Hawkey will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Auditorium, and the show is also a benefit concert for autism being organized by non-profit Keagan’s Cause.

“We got ecstatic when they came together,” Johnson said of the dual-purpose concert. “We’ve always wanted to have something to end the weekend with.”  

Another new activity will demonstrate that golf is not reserved for the green.

Individuals can test their golf skills on the ice from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 20 on Lake Okabena during the first GreatLIFE Drive, Chip and Putt Winter Edition. For $5, contestants receive three drives, three chips and three putts. Registration may be taken at GreatLIFE or during the opening ceremony and chili cook-off Friday.

The chili cook-off and other opening ceremony activities will officially kick off Winterfest weekend at 5 p.m. Friday. All opening ceremony activities are free and open to the public.

Johnson said it’s not too late to register for the chili cook-off, as a few of 20 total slots remain open.

Everyone’s a critic in the chili cook-off, as guests are asked to sample and judge the contestant’s chili. Contestants’ chili will also be judged by a handful of designated judges. The best booth is also a category eligible for a prize, Johnson added.

Awards will be given at 7 p.m. — the conclusion of the opening ceremonies. Market Lupitas will also be serving Mexican food following the event.

Johnson said he would be remiss if he did not add the Deep Freeze Dip to the top of the crowd-favorite list. The dip begins at 1 p.m. Jan. 20 at Sunset Park.

“There’s nothing better than standing out in the cold and watching a bunch of idiots jump into the cold lake,” Johnson said, laughing.

On a more serious note, Johnson said the Deep Freeze Dip raises a lot of money for the community. For the next two years, funds will go toward a splash pad effort being coordinated between Noon Kiwanis and the city of Worthington. That money, on top of a $50,000 fund match from the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation, are imperative to seeing the project through, Johnson said.

Winterfest has been slowly evolving over the past several years, according to Johnson, Like anything in smaller communities, it requires a group of people committed to bringing forth ideas.

“What we really need for Winterfest to continue to grow and expand is for more people around the table with more ideas and … to roll their sleeves up and add some more activities,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the committee is committed to continuing Winterfest for a variety of reasons, including celebration as a community, economic growth and promoting getting outside.

“Ultimately, this is winter and everyone gets tired of being inside all the time,” he said. “This is part of our lifestyle. It’s what can we do outside … and celebrate and be part of the community.”

Medallion found

Dave Graff of Worthington needed only a few words of Tuesday’s Winterfest medallion clue to know where he was headed over the noon hour.

“The line of the clue today that said ‘the wind is blowing as we speak’ made me think right away of Sailboard Beach and the Windsurfing Regatta,” Graff said.

Graff’s instincts were correct, as he found the medallion behind the small pump station on Sailboard Beach. After receiving the clue in the morning, he went there a few hours later and made his discovery with little difficulty.

“The clue also said ‘while searching through town you can see people fish’ and that also made me think of Sailboard Beach,” Graff added. “I headed there and saw it just laying on the ground there.”

Graff said he doesn’t typically go on medallion hunts, though he did admit that he “and a couple other guys always talk about where we think it is.” Now, as a reward for finding this year’s Winterfest medallion, he has $100 in Chamber Bucks to spend.

Here are all five clues for this year’s year’s medallion hunt:

Clue 1: Winterfest fun is better than ever,

With such great events, who cares about weather?

Seasoned fans know what happens today;

The medallion hunt gets underway!

Clue 2: Winter weather is not for the weak

The wind is blowing as we speak

Join in the hunt if that's what you wish

While searching the town you can see people fish

Clue 3: A park in the city is where I am dwelling

Other than that, I'm not telling;

Perhaps I will add there's water below,

Right now it’s ice and covered with snow.

Clue 4: For those who love Winterfest deep in the soul,

Go to the spot near the lake's deepest hole

The wind sails by with a musical gale

Whistling through air and along the rail.

Clue 5: Winter isn't always life at the beach,

But the medallion you seek is right within reach.

The view is quite nice where in summer they sail,

Grab me out from under the rail.

Winterfest activities


KFAN Power Trip Morning Show, 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Worthington Event Center.

Opening Ceremony, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Worthington Event Center. Includes live music by Tommy Binford, Nobody Fights Alone silent auction and bake sale, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Deep Freeze Dip turn-in, walk registration and shirt pick-up, Red Hot Chili Cook-Off, weekend announcements and crowning of the Snow Queen, princess and prince. Snow royalty candidates are still being accepted at the Chamber.


Open skate: all day, sunset park.

Southwest Minnesota ice fishing tournament, 9 a.m. to noon, Sunset Park. Registration at 7:30 a.m.

Winterfest 2-mile walk: 9 a.m., Worthington YMCA.

Blue Jay Open, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

GreatLIFE Drive, Chip and Putt Winter Edition, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Sunset Park.

Concessions by the Nobles County Cattlemen and Frosty Riders of Nobles County: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunset Park.

Deep Freeze Dip: 1 p.m., Sunset Park.

Keagan’s Cause concert: 7 p.m. doors open, Memorial Auditorium.


Worthington Young Professionals Network open skate: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Worthington Ice Arena.

If interested is interested in becoming involved in the Winterfest Committee, call the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919.