By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Frigid temperatures caused a few parade cancellations, but did not appear to break the spirit of organizers or participants of Winterfest 2013.
As Mike Goddard, a member of the Geneva Business Association that sponsors Winterfest, was shoveling the access way to the chili-cook off it was clear, ironically, that the winter weather could mean fewer participants.
Temperatures dropped into the low teens with a brisk breeze making it feel much colder.
Goddard said he anticipated a somewhat smaller crowd for the event because it would be somewhat uncomfortable for outdoor activity and the effects of the flu on area residents.
He said the chili-cook off drew 14 contestants as compared to last year’s entries that included 23 contestants.
In 15 minutes, however, chili lovers appeared out of nowhere to create a long line to sample the cooks’ best chili. He said the chili-cookoff winners will be immortalized with a brick in an area sidewalk.
Nick Matko, a construction manager from Pittsburgh, said he had no trouble driving three hours to participate in the cook-off.
“We come here every year for my birthday (Feb. 2),” he said. Matko said he fell enough in love with the city.
“I travel all over the East Coast and I’ve been to California and Texas and this is my favorite town,” he said of Geneva.
Matko was real serious about his chili recipe and said he was not able to share any details of his recipe. “If I’d tell you I’d have to kill you,” he said with a laugh.
Madison resident Mary Ann Kuhn said her family came to the event just to look around. “The last two years they haven’t had snow for this,” she said.
“We just came to see all the things Winterfest had to offer,” said Morgan Amato, of Ashtabula, while preparing to check out the chili with her daughter Savannah Garrett of Ashtabula.
“That’s what winter is all about,” said Winterfest Co-Chairman Andy White explaining the event’s connections to the cold temperatures.
“This is so much fun,” said Lindsay Arietta of Harpersfield Township. She said it was a great way to get out of the house. “Something to do. Bundle up the kids and get them out of the house,” she said.
Meanwhile Scot Tribuzi, an instructor at Kent State University-Ashtabula Campus, was carefully monitoring his hospitality students as they used chain saws to create ice sculptures for visitors’ viewing pleasure.
“They are learning what is involved in creating ice sculptures (in a catering class),” Tribuzi said. He said a special ice maker is used to create the blocks of ice that are then carved into works of art.
He said the blocks of ice cost $75 to $100 and can be sold for banquets and weddings for $400 to $500.
While many people were outside in the cold there were also a variety of indoor activities at the Geneva Community Center and Geneva Recreation Center that included musical groups, an inflatable play land and other entertainers.
Chilly temperatures reduced the amount of units in the parade, said Geneva City Manager James Pearson. He said the event is a great time to have some fun in the dead of winter.
“It gets people outside in the winter and (we) have something for them to do,” he said after watching the parade march down North Broadway as flurries flew in every direction.
White said the event is a way for the GBA to give back to the area. “It is for the community,” White said.