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Winterfest blows in

Ava Magnello plays in the snow at Winterfest at Moraine State Park's North Shore in 2022. Butler Eagle File Photo

While attendance at Moraine State Park drops a little during the cold months, its signature winter event always manages to draw people to the North Shore for a day of fun.

Natalie Simon, environmental education specialist at Moraine, said Winterfest helps show people the beauty of the park in the wintertime, especially when there is some snow covering the ground, trees and Lake Arthur.

“It's a wonderful time to showcase different aspects of nature or outdoor recreation,” Simon said,.“Plan for the spring or summer. Learn something new. Connect with someone.”

Winterfest will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at the McDanel’s Boat Launch, where there will be activities from more than a dozen outdoor organizations, informational presentations, live music, and food and beverages on sale throughout the event.

The Moraine Preservation Fund, a nonprofit support group for the park, is the main organizer of Winterfest.

Cassandra Dixon, vice president of MPF, said the event has been held off and on since its founding in 2010, but she personally wanted to bring it back when she joined the organization in 2019.

“It was something my family tried to go to every year that was something we looked forward to,” Dixon said. “Really the goal every time we do it, and why it's so important to me, is we're trying to bring new folks to Moraine, to show them how awesome of a place it is all year round.”

Dixon said about 2,500 people came to Winterfest last year, and she is hoping to get at least that many again at the event Saturday. She said the fact that so many people brave the cold to get outside for an afternoon brings her happiness.

“Who thinks of going outside for a festival on a cold day?” Dixon said. “I'm really pleased that in the time since 2020 at what the event has evolved to.”

Simon said the collaboration between the park staff, Moraine Preservation Fund and numerous other businesses and organizations helps make Winterfest a good kick off event to each new year.

“It's a nice time to have all the volunteers, the partners, the park visitors get together and share an afternoon; everyone is glad to see each other again,” Simon said. “It's always nice to watch people explore different options for what to do in the park in the winter.”

Organizations that will attend the event include the Butler Outdoor Club, Pittsburgh Flying Disc, Pennsylvania Mammals, Tamarack Wildlife Center, the McConnells Mill Dutch Oven Group and Public Lands, among others.

According to Dixon, Pittsburgh Flying Disc is a new addition to Winterfest, which is a good fit because the disc golf course at Moraine is popular with players of the sport. Another addition is Misty Lane Farms Performance Horses, which will offer horse drawn carriage rides for visitors.

Dixon also said she particularly enjoys the Tamarack Wildlife Center, because of its mission of helping animals and its demonstration of its feathery clients.

“They bring ambassador animals to the event; it's a great way to get the kids interested,” Dixon said. “It really sets the tone for being a good ambassador of the park and nature.”

For information on Winterfest, visit Moraine State Park’s website, or Moraine Preservation Fund’s Facebook page.

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