CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP— Michigan is experiencing yet again another brutally cold and snow-filled winter season — the perfect recipe for what is expected to be another fun-filled Crystal Lake Winter Festival on Saturday.
Organizers have been working hard to capitalize on the success of last year’s festival, which came on the heels of historic snowfalls and freezing temperatures.
This year, the conditions aren’t much different, which means a frozen Crystal Lake and plenty of snow for patrons to enjoy during a weekend packed with numerous activities.
“I think it’s going to go really well; we’ve got good ice on the lake,” Crystal Township Supervisor Chris Johnston said. “I think we’ll have a lot of people out here this year.”
This year’s festival welcomes events both old and new.
Observing how quickly someone can drill through the thick ice of Crystal Lake will be a spectacle in itself, as added to this year’s roster are ice spud and hand auger contests, both taking place at the public beach.
Pony rides have also been added this year, which will compliment the popular horse-drawn carriage rides that will be making a return.
This 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.
The polar dip — the signature event of the festival — will return as 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 in front of the beach area this year to keep all events more centrally located.
“The polar dip is always exciting, and seeing the crazy costumes is always fun,” said Johnston, who is a firefighter with the Crystal Township Fire Department. “There’s 12-plus inches of ice out there, so the conditions are perfect for another great festival.”
Johnston, who will serve as a judge for the chili cook off and pie eating contests, said he’s hoping for a great turnout in both contests.
Though the days of official snowmobile races from the past on the lake are gone, patrons can still expect to see plenty of residents zooming on the frozen surface of the lake for fun on their own snowmobiles and four-wheel vehicles.
Crystal Lake Winter Festival Committee Chairwoman Deb Powell did not return repeated messages seeking comment for this story.