For the first five years, it was called the Winter Blues Festival, to “chase those dreary winter weather blues away,” according to Petoskey Downtown Director Becky Goodman.
But even after five years, Downtown Petoskey’s offices were still getting asked, “Where’s the music?” “People were expecting a music festival, and were disappointed when they realized we were talking about another kind of blues,” Goodman said.
Not wanting to disappoint the public, Goodman and her team decided to be straightforward about it. So today, it’s simply the Petoskey Winter Festival, although the goal of cheering up the winter doldrums is the same. “Only the name has changed,” Goodman said.
A few things have been tweaked, though, to keep things fresh and fun for returning attendees.
“It is really a collection of mini-events,” Goodman said. “The committee works to come up with new events, and we retain some of the old ones, as well.”
The Chocoholic Frolic is one event that won’t be disappearing any time soon.
“It’s one of the all-time favorites,” Goodman said.
Snag an entry form at the Downtown Petoskey offices, and tour the participating stores to sample chocolate treats. At the end of the day, return your form, and get entered to win a chocolate lover’s treasure chest.
“It has been really fun for me to greet the people at the end of the day who are all happy and full of chocolate,” Goodman said. “People love the Chocoholic Frolic, and that’s why we continue to do it each year.”
Retail Therapy is a similar concept, in which shoppers request an entry slip (no purchase required) each time they visit a store, for a chance at winning Downtown Treasure certificates. But while those are two of the most popular events, Petoskey’s Winter Festival doesn’t end with chocolate and shopping.
The fun starts on Wednesday, with several downtown diversions, like Grandpa Shorter’s “Carlos the Bear” contest (kiss Carlos the Bear, get your photo taken, and you might just get to take him home) to the Petoskey Library’s “Blind Date with a Book.”
Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars is hosting their Iron Chef Competition on Wednesday, with a pro division at 2pm and an amateur division at 5pm, in which chefs will go headto-head in a three-course meal competition to win the title of Fustini’s Iron Chef.
“The Iron Chef Contest should be great – I love to watch people cook who know what they are doing,” Goodman said.
Wednesday evening, Petoskey’s new Red Sky Stage venue will open their Cabin Fever Coffeehouse at 6pm.
And on Thursday night, it’s back to the 80s with Retro Game Night, Goodman said.
“Downtown stores will be setting up vintage games like Atari and Nintendo,” she said. “Play the games, record your scores, and you can win some great prizes. Being an old ‘Burger Time’ player myself, I’m excited to see how Retro Game Night goes as a new event.”
Petoskey Winter Festival’s biggest attractions open on Friday, with the Wine and Dine progressive dinner beginning at 6pm. Participants move from one restaurant to the next for each course, starting at American Spoon Foods and moving to Chandler’s, Palette Bistro, City Park Grill, Whitecaps, and Stafford’s Perry Hotel.
After all of that great gourmet food, lace up and run it off on Saturday at 8am at the 5K Winter Fun Run. Hang out for a coffee afterwards at Petoskey’s newest coffee shop, North Perk, which is donating 10 percent of their sales for the day to the Watershed Council.
Grandpa Shorters will be back on the festival scene Saturday with “Walking Tacos” from 11:30am to 2:30pm; Stafford’s will offer their Innkeeper Buffet plus sleigh rides; and Saturday night will feature local talent showcase Petoskey’s Got Talent at 8pm at City Park Grill.
“[Petoskey’s Got Talent] is always a lot of fun to watch, and we’ve held it since the first year of our winter festival,” Goodman said about the event, which features cash prizes. “I can’t say we’ve sent anyone to Hollywood, but we’ve had great attendance, which is what we hopåe for all of the festival!”
WHAT: The 2014 Petoskey Winter Festival; visit petoskeydowntown.com for a complete listing of events
WHERE: Downtown Petoskey’s shopping district
WHEN: February 19-22
WHY: To show what’s special about downtown Petoskey in the winter