Corrections or additions?

This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the January 31,

2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

River Twins’ Winter Festival

In the face of newspaper ads for flights to Florida,

radio and TV commercials for trips to the islands, and the way that

many of us respond to January — phone for pizza delivery or extend

yourself and pick it up; and rent a movie while you’re at it —

"winter festival" can sound like a cruel contradiction in

terms: You gotta be kidding.

But for five years now, folks in Lambertville and New Hope, or as

they call their environs, "the twin rivertowns," have been

in deadly earnest about their weekend winter festival. This year’s

affair, Friday through Sunday, February 2 to 4, promises to be bigger

and better, if not colder and snowier. But, since there are sometimes

doubts about availability of shad at the time of that fishy festival

in early spring, well, maybe it’s fitting there should be some

uncertainty

about ice and snow for the winter fete.

After all, this isn’t Minnesota. We’re not talking about St. Paul’s

annual winter carnival, celebrated outdoors with an average daily

low temperature of six degrees and wind-chill measurements of

40-below.

(Ugh. Pass the hot peppers, please.) This is a more temperate, local

event — a new-style NIMBY, or nearly in my back yard. And

since Lambertville-New Hope is, unarguably, an area that’s easy to

love for three seasons of the year, maybe it’s worth digging out of

our seasonal affective disorder (SADness) long enough to check out

what’s happening there next weekend.

Besides a cook-off of way-different chili dishes, all available for

tasting, a rundown of what’s cooking at the winter festival would

include all kinds of music in an array of venues; an ice-carving

contest;

a "village snowfolk art competition;" steam train rides,

historic

house tours, canal walks, and a mini-Mummers parade.

From the top, John Sebastian, the singer who anchored the Lovin’

Spoonful

in decades past, headlines the festival concert on Friday, February

2. Held in the upscale theater of New Hope-Solebury High School, the

show follows a reception at the Inn at Lambertville Station, with

both Sebastian and Sally Taylor. Taylor, the daughter of two famous

music-makers (James Taylor and Carly Simon) who is making waves as

a gifted singer-songerwriter in her own right, opens.

And the music never stops. Visitors can choose the music they feel

like hearing at a range of times and locations. Saturday afternoon’s

parade along Bridge Street features both marching bands and Mummers

music by the Woodland and Uptown string bands, in full feather. Havana

Restaurant, New Hope, offers rhythm and blues both Saturday and Sunday

afternoons; overlapping that, Celtic/Irish music and dance will pour

from the River’s Edge, next door to the Bucks County Playhouse;

Odette’s

offers disco and swing Saturday night. At Lambertville’s Inn of the

Hawke, it’s bluegrass on Sunday afternoon, with folk rock at John

and Peter’s Place, New Hope, on both days.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, St. John’s Church on Bridge

Street, Lambertville, hosts a variety of free programs for the family

— Tucker’s Tales puppet Theater performing "The Three

Bears;"

campfire music and storytelling by area favoirte "Mountain

John;"

and an interactive drum circle with Conrad Kubiak facilitating the

event with his hand-crafted drums and optional participation from

the audience.

Think you might need to get away from it all? Try a

New Hope-Ivyland train ride either afternoon. The steam train departs

on the hour between noon and 3 p.m. for a trip through the

countryside,

beautiful under a blanket of snow. If you’re ready for some fresh

air, try Saturday afternoon’s New Hope/Lambertville historic

walking

tour, with a focus on art and architecture from the Revolution to

the present. Or, you can opt for the winter walk history and nature

tour — three miles along the two towns’ canal towpaths — on

Sunday afternoon.

On both Saturday and Sunday at specified sites in each town,

world-class

ice-carvers will create sculptures from 300-pound blocks of ice.

Viewers

may vote for the best work, with peoples’ choice awards given each

day at 5 p.m.

This year’s festival premieres a "village snowfolk" art

competition.

Whazzat? It starts with two-by-four foot, quarter-inch plywood cut

into the shape of a traditional (and politically correct)

"snowperson."

The artist then decorates the blank "canvas" in one or another

category, such as historical, outstanding characters (from cartoons

to books, or Bugs Bunny to Harry Potter), or free-form.

Whatever you do, try to work up an appetite, and a thirst, by Sunday

between 1 and 4 pm. That’s the time of the festival’s most popular

event: the chili cook-off at River Horse Brewery. Though 10 or more

area restaurants vie for the people’s choice award, all of those who

make the "tasting donation" of $10 should be winners. Louise

Decker, who dreamed up the festival more than five years ago and now

heads up the all-volunteer effort, says ground beef is just the

beginning.

Exotic meats — think buffalo and ostrich — have also come

into play.

Two historic mansion tours, one in each river town, are part of the

festival too. On Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., visitors can tour the

Marshall House on Bridge Street, Lambertville, and then on Sunday,

1 to 3:30 p.m., visit New Hope’s Parry Mansion, known as a museum

for the decorative arts. From 3 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, a number of area

bed and breakfasts invite festival-goers to view a sample room;

weekend

packages are also available at these businesses.

Snow or no, the festival will probably be a rosy-cheek affair, what

with ice carvings and snowfolk to admire, canal paths to hike, houses

to tour, and chili and brew to sample. Turn off your SAD full-spectrum

light box, put on your longies, and top them with all the polar fleece

gear you can find. Then choose your favorite stocking cap, grab some

cash and a pocket-pack of tissues, and think hot chocolate.

— Pat Summers

Lambertville-New Hope Winter Festival, New Hope Solebury

High School, 215-862-2974; website: www.WinterFestival.net.

John Sebastian, formerly of the Lovin’ Spoonful, headlines the

concert that kicks off the festival, Friday through Sunday, February

2 to 4. Opening the show is Sally Taylor, the daughter of James Taylor

and Carly Simon. $30. Friday, February 2, 8 p.m.

Festival Parade begins at noon on Saturday on Bridge Street led by

the Woodlawn Mummers and the South Hunterdon High marching band.

Festivities

include puppet shows and music at the River’s Edge, John & Peter’s,

and Odette’s. Professional ice carving competitions, Saturday and

Sunday at eight locations, with prizes awarded Sunday at 5 p.m.

Chili-Cook-Off

is at River Horse Brewing ($10 tasting fee). Most events are free.

Saturday and Sunday, February 3 and 4.


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