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
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
(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
a "village snowfolk art competition;" steam train rides,
house tours, canal walks, and a mini-Mummers parade.
From the top, John Sebastian, the singer who anchored the Lovin’
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;
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
campfire music and storytelling by area favoirte "Mountain
and an interactive drum circle with Conrad Kubiak facilitating the
event with his hand-crafted drums and optional participation from
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
beautiful under a blanket of snow. If you’re ready for some fresh
air, try Saturday afternoon’s New Hope/Lambertville historic
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
On both Saturday and Sunday at specified sites in each town,
ice-carvers will create sculptures from 300-pound blocks of ice.
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
Whazzat? It starts with two-by-four foot, quarter-inch plywood cut
into the shape of a traditional (and politically correct)
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
Exotic meats — think buffalo and ostrich — have also come
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;
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
High School, 215-862-2974; website: www.WinterFestival.net.
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.
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.
is at River Horse Brewing ($10 tasting fee). Most events are free.
Saturday and Sunday, February 3 and 4.
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