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25th annual Winsted Winter Festival Dec. 6-7
Dec. 2, 2013

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – A quarter of a century ago, a tradition was born in Winsted.

It all started one evening after a Winsted City Council meeting, when Gary Lenz, Tom Ollig, and Brian Grammitz (city administrator at the time) went out for coffee at Keg’s Bar.

“We were kicking around ideas, and Brian mentioned that his hometown had a winter parade,” Lenz recalled.

So, the group decided to start a lighted holiday parade in Winsted, as well.

“I’m guessing we only had six to 10 floats the first year,” Lenz said. “It did catch on, though. What helped considerably were the floats from ambassadors – visiting royalty from other cities.”

Now, Lenz estimates that the parade includes 35 to 40 floats.

This year’s parade through downtown Winsted will take place Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m., led by grand marshals Chip and Julie Guggemos.

Winter wonder
Several other activities are scheduled for the 25th annual Winsted Winter Festival, as well.

Wednesday, Dec. 4, residents of St. Mary’s Care Center and members of the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce will be judging Winsted’s outdoor lighting contest. To participate, homeowners should turn on their holiday display by 5:30 p.m. that evening. First place wins $100; second place wins $75; and third place wins $50.

Friday, Dec. 6, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Winsted will have a Christmas concert at 7:15 p.m. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be served prior to the concert, starting at 6 p.m.

A silent auction will take place at the Winsted Public Library from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 6, and from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7. New and gently used items are being accepted. A portion of the proceeds will be divided among Winsted Elementary, Lester Prairie, and Holy Trinity Schools for their libraries and accelerated reading programs.

Blue Note bash
Many family activities are planned at the Blue Note Ballroom Saturday, Dec. 7, including the Holy Trinity Council of Catholic Women (CCW) dessert social, craft sale, and bake sale. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., treats, coffee, and cider will be available for eat in or take out.

Also during that time, Santa Claus will be on-hand for pictures (taken by Ruben Duran), and face painting and sand candy will be available from What’s Next Art Studio.

The St. Paul Railroad Club will have a large train set on display, and a model train set will be given away to a child age 12 or under.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., hayrides (sponsored by Fleishacker Landscaping and Carlson’s Apple Orchard) will leave from the Blue Note, and the Winsted ambassadors will serve barbecue, chips, pickles, and hot dogs.

A vintage snowmobile show and swap meet will take place in the Blue Note parking lot from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. To learn more, contact Rick Menden at (320) 485-4269, or Greg Davidson at (320) 485-2326.

A night of lights
At the Winsted American Legion, a prime rib, jumbo breaded shrimp, BBQ rib, and combo dinner will be served at 4 p.m. until gone.

A Christmas tree lighting and carol singing will take place at 5:30 p.m. Residents are encouraged to join visiting royalty for coffee and hot cider on the lake promenade, next to Mill Reserve Park.

The Winsted Arts Center (141 Main Ave.) also has excitement planned for the Winsted Winter Festival, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.

Artwork by December featured artist Emily Lynch will be on display, and a book signing with author Linda Reinert and illustrator Emily Lynch will take place in the morning and early afternoon. (Check out the sidebar article for more detail.)

In the afternoon, the arts center will have make-and-take Christmas creations for all ages. From 5 to 7:30 p.m., visitors are encouraged to stop by for chili samples and holiday music – and to warm up after the parade.

Too cold? Nah . . .
Lenz said that in all the years Winsted has had a lighted holiday parade, he doesn’t recall the event being canceled due to cold weather.

“People always show up,” he said. “We dress for it, and some people pull up their cars so they can watch the parade from there.”

Lenz does remember one “bitter cold night” several years back, though.

“The Legion guys didn’t have hats, and their ears were bright red,” he recalled. “Poor guys – I was getting cold just looking at them.”

The winter festival has changed and grown throughout the years. At first, hayrides were pulled by horses instead of a tractor, and a cedar tree was decorated with Christmas lights where the city hall now stands.

Other attractions were added as time went on, such as the snowmobile show.

One of Lenz and Ollig’s ideas that never quite took off was the “Elf Toss,” which involved seeing who could throw a fake elf the farthest.

“Our imaginations got kind of wild after drinking all that coffee at Keg’s Bar,” Lenz said.

Button up!
Buy a $2 Winsted Winter Festival button for a chance to win $100, $75, or $50 in Winsted Bucks.

The McLeod Emergency Food Shelf will receive 50 cents for each button sold. Buttons can be purchased from the Winsted royalty, and at the following Winsted locations:

• Security Bank & Trust

• Glenn’s SuperValu

• Keaveny Drug

• The Pantry Cafe

• Crazi Cakes and Coffee (formerly The Roadhouse Coffee Shop)

• The Blue Note

• Winsted Public Library

Book signing during Winsted Winter Festival
Stop by the Winsted Arts Center (141 Main Ave., downtown) Saturday, Dec. 7 to say “hi” to local author Linda Reinert and illustrator Emily Lynch.

Reinert will have a book signing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day, and Lynch will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to answer questions about her artwork.

Author Linda Reinert
Reinert is a speech and language pathologist who serves families in the Delano, Rockford, and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school districts.

Her book, “Talking is Hard for Me,” was released Aug. 12 from Woodbine House Publishers. Reinert shared a preview of her book during Winsted’s Books and Cookies event in March (see story from March 4 edition of the Herald Journal).

The story is written from a child’s perspective, and is a resource for children who struggle with communication, as well as their parents, caregivers, teachers, and siblings.

“I look forward to sharing the final product with Winsted area visitors,” Reinert noted. “I welcome people’s questions about speech and language development – what is typical, when to be concerned, and where to turn for help.”

The book retails for $18.95, but during the Dec. 7 book signing, Reinert will have copies available for $15, a special Winsted Winter Festival discount.

More information has been added to Reinert’s book since the Books and Cookies event in March, including the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems.

“This was an important addition to the story line, and we called it ‘Sometimes I Need A Boost,’” Reinert noted. “Just as a young child needs a boost to see a parade in a crowd, sometimes a young child needs a boost with their talking. AAC can include sign language, picture boards, or speech output devices, including some available as tablet apps or computer programs.”

Illustrator Emily Lynch
Presented in a picture book format, “Talking is Hard for Me” includes full-color illustrations by former Holy Trinity art  and math teacher Emily Lynch.

Lynch is the December featured artist at the Winsted Arts Center, and her vibrant oil paintings will be on display throughout the month. She is also teaching a Basics of Painting class at the arts center, starting Friday, Dec. 6.

Friday, Dec. 13, Lynch will be opening an art gallery at 144 River Street in Delano, called STUDIO 144.

“It will host two local artists each month, and be open just two days during each month,” Lynch noted.

Lynch enjoys doing “mathematical artwork,” and was invited to speak about her art in front of faculty and students at St. Cloud State University’s math department.

“I have been focusing and obsessing about visual ways to understand math, and have been painting those concepts,” she said.

Lynch is a Minnesota State Arts Board mentorship grant recipient, and represented the University of Minnesota in the 2011 undergraduate student showcase. An article about her accomplishments appeared in the Herald Journal in December 2010.

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