MORGANTOWN — A lack of snow didn’t deter the nonprofit Coopers Rock Foundation from hosting its annual Winterfest Saturday at Coopers Rock State Forest. Adam Polinski, WinterFest chairperson for Coopers Rock Foundation said Saturday was their eighth Winterfest.
Polinski said besides the Toboggan Festival that happens annually at Chestnut Ridge Park there wasn’t wintertime festivals that happened in the area before Winterfest.
“I mean what people really do in wintertime here is cross country skiing more than anything, and so we kind of wanted to build a festival around snow and outdoor winter recreation,” he said.
Of course the question always arose — what if there isn’t any snow?
Polinski said the festival would have to incorporate non-snow-dependent activities. Every year, the festival features traditional activities that require snow and things that won’t, just in case.
“If we have enough snow we do it all. If we don’t have any snow, like today, we still have something happening,” he said.
The two goals of Winterfest are to promote Coopers Rock as a year-round place to recreate, and also to serve as a fundraiser. The funds go toward improvement at the forest.
Activities included the Snowball Target Range with hacky sacks and beanbags instead of snowballs, a Slingshot Paintball Biathlon short course, and disc golf. In the frigid cold, attendees could warm up next to the fire and drink hot cocoa as well.
“What the Coopers Rock Foundation can share with the public is some more of the details of what’s going on, what’s happening, what’s gonna happen, different plans, and to hear what people have to say,” he said.
Money that goes back into the state park can go toward trail work and facilities. One of the things the foundation is going to fund is an archway visitors will pass under as they drive into the forest. Polinski said it existed historically in the 1940s.
“That won’t change the forest itself, but it will put a really cool cover on the book,” he said.
Amy Metheny, a plant pathology master’s student, gave winter tree ID walks Saturday to festival attendees. In wintertime, identifying trees is different, given the lack of vegetation. The bulk of things some might find in the forest is bark, buds and twigs.
“In summer, obviously we would focus on things like flowers and leaves and stuff but right now that’s what we have,” she said.
She said she had around 15 people on her first walk Saturday. Later in the day there was another tree ID hike to the rock maze at Coopers Rock. Metheny said getting outside is good — even if it is a little chilly.
“Getting outside is good for you. Everybody’s been stuck inside all day, all winter. And, I mean, you should try and learn stuff year round,” she said.