Holiday Hoof, FestivALE provide cold-weather fun in Ferndale

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published November 18, 2015

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FERNDALE — The holiday season is fast approaching, but Ferndalians won’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to get their holiday cheer fix, as the third annual Holiday Hoof and FestivALE events will return Nov. 21 to downtown Ferndale.

The Holiday Hoof fun run and walk event is sponsored by the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority and began as a fundraiser for public art in 2013. From the start, the DDA connected with Beth Hussey, who owns One-Eyed Betty’s on West Troy Street, and the FestivALE event was born, bringing seasonal beers, good food and entertainment to the downtown district.

“We had a group of volunteers who were runners and identified a lack of runs around this time of year, and we felt it would be a really good idea to partner together with (Hussey) and celebrate everything about the season,” DDA Operations Manager Cindy Willcock said. “Again, we are hoping to raise money for public art and programming in the downtown. Obviously, we are always about public art here in Ferndale and think public art adds a lot to the character of our town.”

In its third year, Willcock said, the Holiday Hoof 5K run and walk will be handled a little differently. In past years the event has been an obstacle course at night, but this year it has been moved to the morning and will run up to the start time of the FestivALE event at noon.

The DDA is partnering with the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, which runs the annual Rainbow Run in Ferndale, to promote both organizations and put on the best event possible, Willcock said.

“We have had some changeover in staffing and volunteers, but we still wanted to do the event in some way, shape or form, so we looked to simplify it for this year and do something fun that ties into the FestivALE,” she said. “We are hoping to evaluate after this year and see if we liked to do it in the morning or in the evening better. We wanted to try different things and see what everybody likes the best.”

Registration for the Holiday Hoof will run from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the DDA, 149 W. Nine Mile Road, with the race beginning at 10:30 a.m. on West Troy Street. Registration costs $45 and goes up to $60 on race day. It includes a T-shirt, entrance into FestivALE and one free drink or food token.

Once inside FestivALE, Hussey said, patrons will see a wide variety of drinks, food and entertainment. Pertaining to the reason for the event, Hussey said she wanted people to continue to enjoy what downtown Ferndale has to offer despite the colder weather.

“I knew that with Ferndale, you are getting a lot of outdoor events and festivals that take place here, as the summer is inundated with events all throughout the city,” she said. “Anyone can throw an event in Michigan in the summertime, but it makes it a little more interesting to put on a cold-weather event. I think cold weather and beer drinking go hand in hand, and this is a unique event.”

Hussey said that outside of featuring the numerous Michigan breweries that create special holiday or seasonal beers for winter, the event will have Belgian Christmas beer on hand.

As far as food goes, Hussey was looking to do a play on holiday dinner, so patrons will be able to dine on pig, lamb, goat and other holiday foods. The most unusual, however, is the tartiflette, a potato-and-cheese dish originating from France.

“I did a bunch of research on cold-weather foods, and tartiflette is made in a large frying pan about 6 feet in diameter,” Hussey said. “It sits over the fire, and it is a big part of the atmosphere here to see it cooking with three to four guys working the paddles, and it is just a very savory and delish dish.”

The festival will highlight local music, including recent “The Voice” contestant Joshua Davis, who grew up in Traverse City. Street performers, storytellers and other entertainment will be spread throughout West Troy Street.

Tickets cost $35 in advance or $40 at the door and include three food and beer tokens.

Having a chance to highlight Ferndale and craft beer is a winning combination, Hussey said, and something she thinks fits perfectly in the city.

“All across the country, craft beer is the beer segment that is growing the fastest, and even with craft cocktails and craft food, everyone is getting a little more thoughtful about what they are eating and drinking,” she said. “Ferndale is such a cool town, and the beer culture is well-received here. Residents always have something fun to do, so it seemed like a no-brainer to have this event here.”

For more information on the events, including purchasing tickets and registering, visit www.ferndalefestivale.com or www.ferndaledda.com and click on Holiday Hoof under the Events tab.

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