Chill Fest week later with new events this year

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chill Fest Charlie looks ready to Cash things in and go to Potter Auditorium with Melissa Burnett as the 2020 Chatfield Chill Fest celebration arrives. Burnett brings him a guitar so that he can almost strum along with the featured band performing on the Potter stage, Church of Cash, on Feb. 1.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Look out, Mr. Chill Fest Charlie, there’s some excitement and Cash coming your way.

It’s been said before — standing alone in City Park, with your tongue permanently frozen to that signpost’s gotta be getting really old.  And even though you’ve lugged it all over town to Chill Fest events in years past, the Chosen Valley Community Foundation is bringing this year’s Chill Fest right to your turf. 

Just ask the foundation’s Chill Fest organizer, Melissa Burnett, who’s so pleased to announce Chatfield’s annual Chill Fest celebration is going to be held in the park and beyond where you can see it all – from turkey bowling to sled dogs to the music of Johnny Cash. Damon Ramaker’s Iditarod sled dogs will skid to a stop to the Carhartts & Kegs fundraiser concert that’s taking place behind the Chatfield Center for the Arts before the very special “Church of Cash” Johnny Cash tribute band on Potter Auditorium’s stage.

“Everything’s kind of moving.  We were going to have Chill Fest mostly in Groen Park, but it kept expanding, and we thought that City Park was centralized, for the most part, so most things will take place in that area, Burnett said.  “Everything’s happening there so that people can see the different activities in City Park and so Chill Fest will not be so spread out – we tried to get it a little more centralized to make it more accessible to people.”

This year, the outdoor and indoor midwinter fun’s happening just a little later on Saturday, Feb. 1, and Sunday, Feb. 2, rather than the last weekend of January, so everyone can be there.

“Because there are so many sports events with teams away that weekend, we asked about it, and we were told that it happens every year.  We wanted to push Chill Fest to a weekend where there was less going on in town so that people can come,” Burnett said. 

Not only has the date changed, but there are several new activities. 

“The foundation board runs Chill Fest, and I took over Chill Fest and thought that it’s kind of been dying out a little and needed to be spiced up with some new energy or let go.  One of the main things is that we’re collaborating with businesses and organizations in town to offer advertisement for them to participate.  Our goal is to make the town alive, to get people out and bring people to town to do cool things in our town,” Burnett said.

The “cool things” done in City Park, at the CCA, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church’s Maddock Hall, the Chatfield Public Library, Groen Park and only as far away as Groen Park, the Thurber Building and Pioneer Presbyterian Church are billed as “a weekend of winter fun for all ages.” It begins with a pop-up shop and craft fair at St. Mary’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – featuring a “farmer’s lunch” offered for sale by the Chatfield High School FFA chapter from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., paralleled by a family movie marathon at the Chatfield Public Library from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lower level – accompanied by crafts and snacks.

The Boy Scouts sponsor turkey bowling down the middle of City Park’s diagonal sidewalk from 1 to 3 p.m., along with a Just for Kix performance and a meet-and-greet with Damon Ramaker’s Iditarod sled dogs in City Park at the same time as the turkeys go rolling, Burnett related.

Among the other “cool things” noted by Burnett are the Studio 223 free workout from 7 to 8 a.m., and the Ramakers’ Iditarod dogs, which are coming because the Ramakers pushed back their trip to the Iditarod a little so they could attend.

Burnett reminded Chill Fest celebrants to stop downtown Saturday to see what’s happening inside local shops – such as hot chocolate, marshmallows and other coziness — and she observed that the foundation checked in with local Bunco enthusiasts to be able to announce their annual wild dice games at the Thurber Building from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Also, Pam Bluhm ascertained that she’s got her roasters fired up and simmering chili with all the fixings at Pioneer Presbyterian Church from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and members of the Bluff Country Hiking Club are inviting participants who’d like to load up on a shuttle from Groen Park at 6 p.m. for the candlelight snowshoe hike can do so, signpost or no.  

She also pointed out that Chill Fest has always had good tunes that have tempted the ear of Charlie, but this time, they’ll be within earshot, as the foundation has a special outdoor pre-concert concert, the Carhartts & Kegs fundraiser concert that’ll open in the Center for the Arts’ parking lot at 6 p.m. prior to the admission-only Church of Cash Johnny Cash tribute band backstage concert on the Potter Auditorium stage at 7 p.m. The Church of Cash event is a marquee event, the only thing that requires admission for up to 250 people, while the pre-party beforehand outside will have games, food, beer and drinks and burn barrels.

The following morning, Sunday, Feb. 2, the Chatfield Fire Hall will be ready for a fundraiser pancake breakfast courtesy of Chatfield’s Washington, D.C.-bound eighth grade students who will be up early to fry up the flapjacks from 7 a.m. to noon.  Burnett assured everyone who attends the concert or the breakfast that any funds raised benefit Chatfield and Chatfield only. 

“The Chosen Valley Community Foundation, everything we raise goes back into the community for grants, scholarships and projects.  Everything stays right here,” she said.  “And the eighth graders’ pancake breakfast helps them earn money for their Washington, D.C. trip coming up this summer, so the kids who volunteer to work the breakfast get to earn for their trips.”     

Hopefully, the weather’s going to be chilly enough to call the weekend of Feb. 1 and 2 “Chill Fest,” but if it isn’t, Charlie, you might be in luck…finally thawing your tongue from its seemingly eternal station on the signpost.  Get a head start on the location and event news by checking out the Chill Fest Facebook page or calling Melissa Burnett at 507-421-5592.