DREW ENDERS OF West Chicago races his girlfriend, Gina Graff of Bloomingdale, Ill., whose family has a house in Green Lake. The two enjoyed spending time on the ice during Thunderfest in February. Hannah Tetzlaff photo
by Hannah Tetzlaff
Summer is winding down but Green Laker country is gearing up.
Whether its sunshine, rain or snow, the area boasts activities and festivals for young and old.
This weekend Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its last big hurrah for the season with its annual Harvest Fest, Friday and Saturday.
The festival draws crowds of thousands and features a wonderful craft faire consisting of dozens of artists, food vendors, a farmers market, bands, a parade and a car show.
Though Harvest Fest is the final chamber-sponsored event for the season, Green Lakers still have fun through the fall and winter with other popular affairs such as the Tour of Homes in Green Lake on Saturday, Oct. 13; From the Land craft fair on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20; and Town Square’s themed bingo such as Spooktacular Bingo at the end of October and Ugly Holiday Sweater Bingo at the end of November.
Thrasher Opera House also continues to host entertainers, providings concerts and performances for the community.
Closer to Christmas, Town Square also hosts cookies with Santa, which enables youngsters to decorate Christmas cookies, make holiday decorations and whisper wish lists to Santa.
DIVULGING WHAT THEY want for Christmas as they sit on Santa’s lap are Bea, 5, and Vivian, 6, Baumgartner of Chicago, who were visiting Green Lake and attended Green Lake Town Square’s event “Cookies with Santa.” Hannah Tetzlaff photo
Liane Walsh, executive director of the chamber noted Green Lake has a new winter event returning this year.
‘[Thunderfest] is coming back this year in February,” she said. “… That is such a new one.”
Last February, local business ThunderBoss organized and threw an event offering fun winter activities for all ages, such as making snowmen in the park, an ice hockey tournament, bonfire on the ice, live music performed by Road Trip, food and more.
ThunderBoss will host the event once more on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15 and 16.
Known for its famous and popular flea market, Princeton offers unique finds once the Saturday flea markets conclude Oct. 12.
According to Tracy Ebert (Tallon), executive director of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce, the city holds a variety of shops that visitors can check out. She noted the shops stay open well into the winter, but close down a little bit after Christmas when some owners go on vacation.
As autumn approaches, it brings with it several more event such as Princeton’s second-annual Fall Wine Walk on Saturday, Oct. 19, which will have a few more locations on its route and will feature local businesses.
“There are 14 stops on the wine walk this time,” Ebert said. “We have a spring one in the fall one; I think the spring one had maybe 12 or 11, so we have more.”
About a month after the wine walk, is the crowd-pleasing event Christmas in Princeton, beginning Friday, Nov. 29 and concluding Sunday, Dec. 1.
The special occasion features a Friday-night parade and Unity’s Festival of Trees silent auction, holiday bake sale and second-hand item sale located in the Community Hall, Friday from 1 to 8 p.m and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Community Hall, 101 Wisconsin St.
Christmas in Princeton also includes five craft fairs around town, shopping specials and moments with Santa such as breakfast with the big man Saturday morning.
Ebert noted this holiday event is quite popular and brings in at least 1,000 people.
She added one of Princeton’s best kept secrets is Mecan River Outfitters & Lodge, which offers rentals throughout the seasons.
“Mecan Lodge, they’ve got fat tire biking, they’ve got cross country skiing, they’ve got snowshoeing, and I don’t think anybody knows that, which is a bummer because they have like 10 miles of beautiful trails,” Ebert said.
People may enjoy a sleigh ride at the lodge as well.
In the summer, the lodge also provides canoes or kayaks, paddles, personal flotation devices and transportation both ways in the summer for when individuals decide to go canoeing or kayaking.
Ebert noted after the flea market closes, “there’s still shopping; there’s still events going on,” noting fun is to be had all the time in Princeton.
Similar to Princeton, Markesan has its own signature events that draw a crowd; the largest one in the winter and fall is “Homespun Holidays,” Nov. 22 and 23.
The affair is hosted by the Markesan Area Chamber of Commerce and marks the jolly start to the festive season with a craft fair featuring more than 50 local crafters, artists and direct sales representatives.
A silent auction also is available and boast more than 30 baskets filled with goods.
During the family-friendly event, the Chamber of Commerce Kids Zone invites kids to enjoy the bounce house, make-and-take crafts, cookie decorating, face painting and a reading corner. And should the youngster have a holiday wish to tell Santa, they don’t need to worry. He will make an appearance and will gladly listen.
Should individuals want to continue to embrace the Christmas spirit, they can also stop over in Ripon and partake in the annual Dickens of a Christmas, which will run Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6 to 8.
The holiday extravaganza features ice sculpting, horse-drawn carriage rides, living window displays, a gingerbread house contest, decorated Christmas trees and more.
No matter where you are in Green Laker Country or what season it is, activities abound and an event is always around the corner for you to enjoy.
Hannah Tetzlaff can be reached by emailing email@example.com or by calling the Ripon Commonwealth Press office at 748-3017.