Organizers talk details about upcoming Winterfest

Alex Doty • Dec 11, 2017 at 12:00 PM

The official start of winter isn’t for another week and a half, but organizers of the annual Grand Haven Winterfest are already gearing up for another fun-filled weekend in January 2018.

Winterfest organizer Kevin Galabavi provided an update to the planning process of this year’s Winterfest during Monday night’s City Council meeting. Galbavi noted that the 2018 Winterfest will benefit the Reimagine Project.

“We had a great year last year for Save the Catwalk, and I think we’re going to have a great year this year for the Imagination Station,” he said.

Returning this year in downtown Grand Haven on Saturday, Jan. 27, will be the Bonfire Bash, located in the Harbourfront Place parking lot at Harbor Drive and Washington Avenue.

“We transitioned out of the giant luau we used to do into the Bonfire Bash, which has more of a family feel,” Galbavi said. “It starts a little earlier and ends a little earlier.”

The Bonfire Bash is done in conjunction with several other downtown-area events that same day, some of which are new to Winterfest.

“On Saturday, during the Bonfire Bash, we’re going to do an ice cream eating contest — outside, in the middle of winter, without your hands,” Galbavi said. “It’s going to be a really good time and that’s going to be a ton of fun.”

Also during the Bonfire Bash will be the Rotary Club’s Sleepwalker Run, which has been changed up for this year, Galbavi noted. Instead of running through the Grand Haven area, participants will run around the snow-melted sidewalks of downtown Grand Haven.

There are also some new events outside of the Bonfire Bash.

“We have a sled build that is going on at Mary A. White (Elementary School) this year,” Galbavi said. “Some of the S.T.E.M. teachers at Grand Haven Area Public Schools approached me about it. We’re going to get the community even more involved in the Cardboard Sled Race.”

Also on Jan. 26 will be the new Downtown Poker Crawl, featuring downtown bars and breweries. People can buy cards for $5 each and build their best hand for a chance to win $250 and other prizes. Proceeds will go to the Reimagine Project.

One of the biggest things about Winterfest is accessibility, according to Galbavi.

“We strive to keep everything free, (and) anything that isn’t free is a fundraiser for something like Save the Catwalk or Imagination Station,” he said. “Even things like the Rotary Run, where there’s a $25 charge to get in, there’s a free portion of it. It just creates more access so we can pull in more of the community to be able to participate in it, which is what it’s all about.”

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