Seasonal Celebration

NORTHVILLE – There are two ways to endure an upstate New York winter: Wait for it to pass miserably or accept it with open arms and a smile. People attending the first annual Northville Winter Festival Saturday were smiling.

According to Northville Merchants Association President Michael Intrabartola, 500 people gathered on the village’s frozen Little Lake in the crisp February air. They could be seen building patriotic snowmen, zipping by on snowmobiles, going for rides in a dog sled, passing through on cross-country skis or standing by a fire enjoying a bowl of chili.

The event, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., was a collaboration of all the community groups in the village, Intrabartola said.

He said the merchants association and the Northville Rotary Club came up with the idea originally.

“We included the entire community to help make the idea a reality,” he said. “The hard work of each and every organization made today very special. Northville’s community and the surrounding areas were blessed with beautiful weather and it’s been a great day.”

Bill Coffey, vice president of the merchants association, said he couldn’t ask for a better day.

“People are coming by snowmobile, they’re coming by skis, they’re parking all over the place, they’re everywhere,” Coffey said. “It’s really an exciting day. Everyone’s been fantastic with the support on this idea. It’s nice when you have all the groups working together.”

Coffey said that the association was accepting donations on Saturday for the June 7 rededication ceremony for the Northville-Lake Placid trail. However, his main goal was to just bring the community together for a winter celebration.

“Our goal was to pull this festival off, get the entire community out and have a day of enjoyment here,” he said.

The community had positive feedback for the event as well.

Bob Ellsworth of Northville said he was overwhelmed by the amount of people that showed up.

“This was overwhelming to see so many people out here in our community, on the ice, having a great time in the sunshine,” he said.

Ellsworth was part of the group who put together a vintage snow mobile show and competition, which brought in about two-thirds of Saturday’s guests.

Another one of the day’s big events was the dogsled rides, which Kate Walrath, a Mayfield native and owner of Run by Dogs dog sledding business, brought to the community. She said she thought the event was a great way to get people out in the fresh air and learn about her favorite hobby.

“Four of my five Siberian Huskies are local rescue dogs and one of them is actually on a local racing team,” she said. “I read some books and taught myself how to do this. I think it’s fun taking people for rides, teaching them about how this is done, and watching them enjoy themselves. Not to mention the weather is gorgeous today,” she said.

Wanda Smith of Broadalbin said she wanted to go to the festival to see the dogsled team because she has a three-dog sledding team herself.

“I’ve been [dogsled racing] for about 20 years,” Smith said. “I had to come see [Walrath’s] dogs because I have my own and I just love this sport. I’m glad [Northville] had this event because it’s nice to see people appreciating dog sledding and learning some of the techniques that go into it. It’s a wonderful way to expose all of the children here to dog sledding.”

After being out in the sparkling snow and frosty air for six hours, the event was moved to the Baptist Church of Northville where the Sacandaga Valley Arts Network hosted a concert featuring The Revival Old Time Bluegrass Gospel Band with Pam and Lenny Broiles.

Casey Croucher can be reached at