Grosse Pointe Farms’ Winterfest skates back to Pier Park

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 24, 2018

 Natalie Calhoun, 3, of Grosse Pointe Farms, feeds a goat in the petting zoo at 2017’s Winterfest on the Hill in the Farms. This year’s Winterfest will move from the Hill back  to Pier Park  and will take  place Feb. 3.

Natalie Calhoun, 3, of Grosse Pointe Farms, feeds a goat in the petting zoo at 2017’s Winterfest on the Hill in the Farms. This year’s Winterfest will move from the Hill back to Pier Park and will take place Feb. 3.

File photo by Sean Work

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — After a decade on the Hill, Winterfest in Grosse Pointe Farms is returning to its roots by heading back to Pier Park this year.

From 1 to 5 p.m. Feb. 3, Farms residents and their guests are invited to enjoy putt-putt golf; ice carving demonstrations; a petting farm; ice skating; s’mores; face painting; crafts; a demonstration by K-9 Duke and his handler, public safety officer Tim Harris; and more. The Relics, a band that has performed for previous Farms Winterfests, will be performing inside a heated tent.

“There’s definitely stuff for adults as well as children,” Parks and Recreation Director Chris Galatis said of Winterfest.

Galatis said the Grosse Pointe Public Library will be leading craft projects inside the community building, and the library will have its mobile book unit on hand as well, so children will be able to check out books at the park that day.

“The whole park will be utilized for the event,” he said.

Galatis said attendees will be able to purchase food and beverages from two food trucks: Wood Fired Up, which serves wood-fired pizza and wings, and Detroit Mini Donut, which offers tiny doughnuts in various flavors.

“That will give (attendees) an opportunity to purchase dessert,” said Galatis, noting that both food trucks were recommended to the Farms by other cities.

While there is a charge for items from the food trucks, Winterfest itself is free, and no reservations are needed, Galatis said.

Do you have a great soup or chili recipe that your friends and relatives are always asking you to make for gatherings? Winterfest is holding soup and chili contests, and Galatis said entrants don’t need to be Farms residents. Soup and chili contest entry forms are due by Jan. 31. A form and more information is available on the city’s website, www.grossepointe farms.org.

After several frustrating years in which city officials had to cancel Winterfest because a lack of cold weather and snow eliminated most of the activities, officials turned to their Kercheval Avenue business district for a revamped event. In cooperation with Hill businesses, the Farms hosted Winterfest on the Hill from roughly 2007 to 2017. The Hill Winterfest offered a mix of food, games and entertainment that wasn’t so reliant on a traditional, wintry winter.

But recent years have brought new facilities to Pier Park that also aren’t dependent on the weather — a refrigerated ice rink, for example, allows for skating and hockey even if temperatures are above the freezing mark.

“We’re trying to highlight some of the improvements made to Pier Park by the Grosse Pointe Farms Foundation,” said Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Derrick Kozicki. Those numerous improvements made by the city’s nonprofit arm include the ice rink and warming building, a fire pit and courts for paddle tennis — also known as platform tennis — which is a winter sport that’s played on heated courts.

Officials hope Winterfest introduces residents to some of the newer amenities and offerings they’ll find at Pier Park.

“We felt it was the right time to bring it back to the park,” Galatis said. “I think everyone thinks of our park as the place to go in the summer, but we want to let them know it’s a (good place) to go in the winter too.”

This will be the first Farms Winterfest for Galatis, who took over last year when Richard Huhn retired as the parks and recreation director after more than 30 years.

“We’re looking forward to having it down here,” Galatis said of returning Winterfest to the park. “We think it’s going to be a wonderful time.”

Winners of the soup and chili cook-offs will receive restaurant gift certificates.

For more information about Winterfest, visit www.grossepointefarms.org or call the Parks and Recreation office at (313) 343-2405.