CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — With one of the coldest, snowiest winters in recent memory, those hoping to attend the annual Crystal Lake Winter Festival couldn’t ask for better conditions.
This Saturday, the festival will bring residents and visitors together to enjoy the icy conditions of the frozen lake.
According to Crystal Lake Winter Festival Committee Chairwoman Deb Powell, there’s almost no doubt that this year’s festival will go on as planned as the lake has been frozen over for several weeks and cold temperatures are likely to continue through February.
“I’m glad we’ve got the cold weather to make the ice,” Powell said. “It’s frozen over and there are snow banks everywhere. This is Michigan weather and we’ve been spoiled the last two winters.”
In 2012, the festival was cancelled due to abnormally warm temperatures and last year’s festival was nearly called off until a week of freezing temperatures before the festival provided enough ice on the lake.
According to Powell, this year’s festival was pushed back two weeks to make sure the conditions would be ideal.
“We have a lot of fun here at the Winter Festival,” she said. “We have a beautiful lake. With ice on it, it’s just spectacular.”
This year’s festival will feature activities old and new.
The annual chili cook-off will now include homemade pies in the competition.
A new craft show will be at the Crystal Township Community Center, with more than 20 vendors expected to attend. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the craft show will be donated to the Crystal Food Pantry.
At Crystal Township Park, a new snow sculpture contest will be held.
Tthis year’s festival will again include sledding at Crystal Township Park, ice skating on Crystal Lake, roller skating at the Rainbow Gardens Roller Rink and horse-drawn carriage rides throughout the downtown area.
In the evening, the sky will light up with the popular lantern launch and fireworks show.
“When the fireworks go off at night with that cold air they are just beautiful,” Powell said. “Some say they are better than the Fourth of July fireworks on the lake.”
The signature event of the festival will also return with the polar dip, in which participants jump into the icy waters of the lake under the supervision of the Crystal Township Fire Department. The location of the polar dip will be moved to in front of the beach area this year to keep all events more centrally located.
There is a fee of $5 to enter the polar dip challenge, and donations of $75 or more will net you a custom printed fleece blanket, with the proceeds going to the fire department.
Those interested in participating in the polar dip can register at Chemical Bank at 101 N. Main St.
Absent from this year’s festival will be snowmobile races as no sponsor came forward for that event. The sled dog rides featured last year will also be absent from this year’s festival.
But you can be sure that plenty of area residents will still be zooming by on the ice on quads and snowmobiles.
Powell said she believes this year’s festival will see a much larger crowd than in years past as weather conditions are “perfect” for every planned activity.
“There’s a bunch of very friendly, helpful people here in Crystal Township,” she said. “There are a lot of things to do here in Crystal. I love it here and we just want people to experience it.”