It’s time to get out of the house and start enjoying the winter weather at the 22nd annual Winterfest on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail.
Winterfest, hosted by the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 101 New Paltz Road in Highland. Admission is $2 per person, with children 6 and under free.
The weather forecast is a chilly 39 degrees, but no one will be cold after everything Winterfest has planned for this year. One of the biggest attractions is the chili tasting, where 19 different restaurants donate meat and vegetarian chilis to the event. It costs 50 cents to taste one chili, and eight dollars to taste them all. The restaurants are competing for “Best of Fest” with chilis that range from mild to spicy.
Peter Bellizzi, President of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, says 200 to 300 people come out every year.
“We’ve had zero degrees and we’ve had 50 degrees,” Bellizzi said. “So you never know, but usually it’s a pretty consistent number that come out.”
Along with the chili competition there will be a bonfire where you can roast marshmallows, as well as some already toasted chestnuts to snack on. The Marlboro High School Interact Club is coming out to set up games for the children in attendance, and the Rotary Club donates their time to help serve the chili.
“Another big thing, I just opened up a Caboose,” Bellizzi said. “It hasn’t been refurbished but put a little heat in there and the kids love climbing all along that thing.”
Attendees can also enjoy a hay ride up and down the rail trail.
The money raised will help repair things on the rail trail throughout the year. Things that Bellizzi is hoping to put the money towards include the new gateway trestle at the walkway.
“So it’s two Central Hudson towers that used to be along the railroad, refurbished and I had the Hudson Valley Rail Trail logo cut out in steel so now it hangs over our trail,” Bellizzi said.
Some new plants and signs are in the works as well as cleaning up the rail trail in general. Bellizzi is interested in signage showing what kinds of plants and trees are native to the rail trail, as well as signs showing the history of the trail.
Winterfest’s goal is to be a community driven fundraiser to get people out of the house during the winter months when they’re usually stuck inside, according to Bellizzi.
“I wasn’t always with the Rail Trail,” Bellizzi said. “I used to come with the boy scouts to volunteer and help out, and it’s always been enjoyable to just come and meet the people.”