Amherst celebrates Winterfest despite warm temperatures

By Joseph Carstairs


(Official Cherry Hill Golf Course Facebook page)
(Official Cherry Hill Golf Course Facebook page)

The ground at Cherry Hill Golf Course was trodden and muddy. Catering services were set up in the foreground as children ran around makeshift snow slopes, disc golf and a stage featured local entertainment. The scene set established this was to be a friendly town fair.

Winterfest, now in its ninth season, is a collaborative effort between Amherst Leisure Services & Supplemental Education, Friends of Amherst Recreation and the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. With cheap admittance, proceeds usually go to scholarships but with unpredictable weather patterns this year, the organizers needed to purchase snow-making equipment, according to Barbara Bilz, assistant director of Amherst Leisure Services & Supplemental Education.

This year’s event had to be pushed back a week due to inclement weather, however the date change resulted in an enticing 50 degree afternoon Saturday.

The schedule of events included classics like face painting and chili tasting to more unique offerings such as the premier cardboard classic sled race, with prizes for best design. Children found entertainment throughout the day.

University of Massachusetts fraternities and sororities lent their aid for volunteer services. Fraternity brothers like the ones from the Eta Mu Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, a UMass fraternity chartered in 2014, watched the slopes and sold local foods offered by the caterers. Sorority members handled doughnut sales and came in shifts to take over positions throughout the day.

“We wouldn’t be able to pull this off without all the volunteers from UMass,” said Bilz. “We use a lot of sororities and fraternities, they all come up here and it’s great.”

Bilz went on to hint that Winterfest could expand its reach next year as the organizers have prospected some in-town event ideas.

Winterfest ended with a finale of Zumba in the snow and fireworks.

Joseph Carstairs can be reached at [email protected].