Saturday, May 18, 2024

East Lansing's annual Winterfest spreads holiday cheer

December 9, 2023
Aaron Johnson and Noel Howland perform at Winter Fest at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center on Dec. 9, 2023.
Aaron Johnson and Noel Howland perform at Winter Fest at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center on Dec. 9, 2023.

The East Lansing community celebrated the eagerly anticipated annual community event, Winterfest, on Saturday at the Hannah Community Center, consisting of a variety of family-friendly activities and events. 

Paige Murchison, the owner of a sweet treats shop called Rollin N Dough, was excited to set up her shop as one of the vendors at the event. 

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Murchison shared her enthusiasm for the event, emphasizing the heartwarming sight of local small business owners coming together to usher in the holiday season.

Murchison said it wasn't just a marketplace; it was a community of like-minded entrepreneurs creating a spirited ambiance that resonated with the joy of the season.

Throughout the day, Murchison never saw a slow moment. Her booth was packed with individuals shopping for her baked goods. 

Winterfest invited artists and businesses to showcase their creations, with booths scattered throughout the building. These provided a platform for smaller businesses to connect with one another and the community, spreading their name and sharing their offerings.

“It’s been great to see all these families and our community find a common ground and a common place to celebrate the season,” Tim Darche, the owner of River Tree Coffee Company, said. 

Darche kicked off his morning by creating a pick-me-up bar, allowing customers to order a warm cup of coffee with cream and sugar on the side. With a smile, he passionately explained the different blends and roasts to curious customers. 

His love for coffee began with home roasting in 2013, culminating in the establishment of his business in 2018. Since then, he has participated in numerous farmer's markets and, most recently, Winterfest. 

With holiday music heard from the second floor of the community center, community members gathered to watch a medley of unique performances throughout the event's duration.

The morning kicked off with a lively set from East Lansing’s School of Rock, a business that provides students in the community the opportunity to hone their musical skills. The young performers took the stage, filling the center with the melodies of classic holiday anthems. 

Following this musical interlude, children eagerly gathered to watch Richard Paul, a Lansing ventriloquist, use humor and audience participation with a little help from his puppet. 

In between performances, families were encouraged to explore a pottery fair showcasing the work of various artists. Complimentary snacks and beverages added to the spirit, while crafting materials provided by the East Lansing Public Library offered a creative outlet for attendees.

After capturing the memorable day at the Winterfest photobooth, families had the opportunity to step outside and witness the fascinating artistry involved in the creation of ice sculptures. The experience closed with the chance to make s'mores, creating a cozy and communal atmosphere against the backdrop of the winter festivities.

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“My favorite part of this event is watching the community shop locally,” long-time attendee and community member Sylvie Ferris said. “I always can find such neat gifts and items for myself and family, and I feel good knowing I supported my community in the process.”

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