As someone who is a new citizen of Lowell, and especially someone who comes from a fairly small town, Winterfest exposed me to new experiences and a greater pride in the city I now call home. I saw smiling faces of all ages enjoying the winter festivities, and in turn was kept warm by the pure joy of all event-goers. Here’s a first-timer’s impressions of Winterfest through my eyes and my camera lens:
After I parked, two chestnut-colored horses casually sauntered ahead of me while they pulled a carriage. A sight I was not familiar with in downtown Lowell, I knew I was in for an exquisite day. Upon entering the “heart” of the event on Arcand Drive, I saw serious faces guiding a curling stone towards the glowing bullseye ahead of them. (And, might I add, all of these folks could find themselves a future career in the sport.)
Beyond this point, Arcand Drive had become a little world of its own with myriads of food trucks and vendors animating the street. Cheery faces on the carousel zoomed past me, and the smell of roasting marshmallows had me lusting for some classic s’mores. I walked further to find myself in a white tent with a funk band moving the crowd with the sweet sounds of their saxophone. While swaying to the tunes, I perused some of the fine handmade crafts on sale. This was only the start of the temptation to make a purchase. Outside of the tent, I found myself in front of the Winter Market. It took all of the self-control I could muster in order to not purchase one of everything these vendors had to offer.
As the day was already beautifully warm, Lowla Bear provided an extra snuggle of warmth with her toasty hugs. As children eagerly waited to leap into Lowla’s arms, folks were gliding across the ice rink. As someone who cannot skate, I was beyond impressed with everyone’s ability to move so gracefully on this “icy” faux ring.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the Soup Competition was the most pleasantly surprising aspect that I witnessed. I heard from past years that the soup competition was one of the most popular events of Winterfest, but I was shocked to see how the line grew throughout much of the competition. At the start of the event, there were folks in a queue that could be described as a “mile-long line”. The second the event started, people flooded the Masonic Center with a spoon in hand eager to taste what the restaurants brought to the table. I watched in awe as representatives from Lao de Café quickly diced vegetables right before my eyes and essentially created their soup seconds before serving.
Following my tour to check out events outside of the Masonic Center, I returned to see more enthusiastic fingers itching to grab more spoons for their new flavor experience. I would have to say that I found the soup competition as my personal favorite part of Winterfest. Even though restaurants were going head-to-head to take the first-place spot, it was something that families, friends, and restaurants alike could share their talents and enjoy each other’s company.
For those curious about which restaurants took the winning spots, they will be officially announced at an award ceremony on Tuesday, March 12th. It will be held in the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall at 5:30pm.