Organizers Adapt For Safe Fortville Winterfest
Photographer / Belinda Russell
Fortville Winterfest, a free, one-day event, has become a holiday tradition for area families. This year’s festival, scheduled for December 5, is sure to get attendees into the Christmas spirit as it showcases Fortville’s charming downtown with its unique shops and eateries. Although activities have been scaled back in an effort to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, the day will have the old-fashioned Christmas feel it is known for.
Winterfest is sponsored by Fortville Action Inc., a nonprofit organization of volunteers who promote the community throughout the year with events like the Fortville Summer Concert Series, as well as cleanup and flower planting days. The group was formally established two years after the first Winterfest was held in 2010. Founding member Milda Sterrett continues to be active in the organization.
“We are trying to make this year’s Winterfest as safe as possible during this time of COVID,” Sterrett says. “I’ve talked with the board of health a couple of times. It’s been kind of hard to figure it out and we agonized whether to even have it this year. Some people may not be happy that some of the usual activities won’t be going on, but most are excited that Winterfest is still happening.”
As in past years, Main Street will be blocked off so visitors can roam among the shops and restaurants. Although there will not be a performance stage set up, small groups of carolers will walk around and sing throughout the day. In an effort to avoid large gatherings in one spot, the usual parade featuring a dance routine by Snowflake Princesses will not take place.
Families can still enjoy several activities. Carriage rides will be offered from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., at a cost of $10 for a one-bench carriage and $15 for a double bench. Several circle areas resembling ornaments will be available for kids to decorate with colorful chalk. Sambol’s Tree Farm with have a lot set up for families to pick out and purchase Christmas trees.
“We are planning things so a large crowd doesn’t gather closely,” Sterrett says. “Unfortunately, due to safety issues during this time of COVID precautions, Santa will not be attending this year’s Winterfest. My husband Bob typically plays Santa, but it didn’t seem like something he should do this year. The Christmas tree will still be lit, but at an unannounced time.”
New this year are downtown shopping passports. Through December 5, shoppers can pick up a passport at one of 10 participating retailers and restaurants. When customers make a purchase, they receive a stamp on their passport. The number of stamps determines how many times the passport holder is entered into a raffle to be held on the day of Winterfest – participants obtain one raffle ticket for every three stamps, two tickets for every five stamps, and four tickets for a completed passport. There will be a grand prize along with first and second prizes, which include substantial winnings sure to make Christmas merrier.
“We are so happy for the support of our sponsors and individuals,” Sterrett says. “Up until March, we were getting donations from businesses. Although we offered to give back the money, they told us to keep it. After March, our donations came from a few small checks from people in the community. We never make anything from Winterfest – we put it back into the next year’s event.”
For more info on Fortville Action Inc., visit facebook.com/fortvilleactioninc.