SPARTA, Wis. (WXOW) - The Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce held Winter Fest in Memorial Park on Saturday with the goal of giving the community a safe, outdoor event to enjoy.
Winter Fest was an event held many years ago as dogsledding races but because of weather, it was canceled. The Chamber of Commerce has now brought it back but is offering different events.
Winter Fest now features a variety of free events from a beer garden, to a kickball tournament. It started early with the Junior Jack breakfast, sponsored by the Eagles Club, at 8 a.m. and the kickball tournament followed at 10 a.m. with people of all ages taking advantage.
They also offered a vintage snowmobile show and the winner took home a famous trophy crafted by Weldco Custom Fabricating of Sparta. Archery, fat tire bike racing, snow sculpting, and snow tubing and skiing races were also offered. There were small huts with food and drinks as well.
"It's really rewarding to see all of the families who came down and enjoyed the events here," said Holly Carlson, Social Media Strategist for the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce. "Seeing all of the families who have embraced winter instead of grumbling about how cold it is, come down and enjoy what we are offering."
Heidi Prestwood, Executive Director of the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce said her goal was to provide people with something safe to do.
"I think people are getting tired of being inside and they need something to do and I hope I brought that to them," said Prestwood.
With the turnout very good early in the morning, it seemed that she did. Many had smiling faces as they carved snow sculptures with their families or showed off their snowmobiles.
"We were created to gather, and so I think that when we are allowed to gather and do it safely, there's just a part of our brain and our mental health, that just boosts that joy so I think it's super important to be able to host these events and do it safely," said Holly Carlson.
They said they hoped the event helped people feel like a community, once again.
"I'm trying to provide opportunities where we can do things and be outside and social distance and I want people to come and just enjoy themselves," said Prestwood. "You can hear the kickball teams laughing and having a good time and that's what I want."
They hope to continue to put on Winter Fest for many years to come as they called this the "reinventing of the event."
"I hope that it continues in the future. Of course with this being the first year, we don't have the sponsors that we would like to have. I hope to bring on more sponsors and make it bigger and better and add more events," said Prestwood. "I like experiences and making memories, so that's what I want to do."
Carlson added that they would love to hear any feedback and are open to new ideas for next year.