By Michelle Miller
---- — The Cooperstown Winter Carnival has become a tradition and a way to shake off the winter blues, and for most, Old Man Winter could not spoil the fun this year.
Event Co-chairwoman Teresa Leveille called the snowstorm that rolled in Friday as the three-day event was getting started both a blessing and a curse. She said some vendors did back out and attendance might have been slightly down the first couple of days.
Because there was little snow last year, activities such as sledding and ice skating had to be canceled. That was not the case this year.
“We had a lot of people last year that missed those outdoor activities, so it is good that we are able to make those things happen this year,” Leveille said Saturday in between activities.
According to Leveille, attendance was a little thin at Friday night’s happenings, but despite temperatures in the teens on Saturday, she felt there was a good crowd the second day.
“I think the dog show was a good testament that people still came out despite the cold,” she said. “We had a pretty good turnout for the parade too. There was not as much (participation) as last year, but it was good.”
The sun did come out bringing warmer weather on the final day, with temperatures reaching in the upper 20s.
“The sled races were amazing and the day was heavenly,’” said Leveille. She said the event included competitors of all ages ranging from 6 to 60 years old. Another well-attended event on Sunday was the chili contest, according to Leveille. Brewery Ommegang won top honors at the contest that was held at the Back Alley Grille.
Leveille said although not as many people came out during the brisk weather, those who did get out showed commitment to the events they attended.
“Many stayed from beginning to the end,” she said.
The Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal dog show, which features canines in costumes and showing off their talents, is always a well-attended event at the carnival. This year’s competition was held under a tent at Lakefront Park on Saturday instead of outdoors in Doubleday Parking lot. Some said they liked having activities moved, while others disagreed.
Elizabeth Rickard of Hartwick said she really did not like the shift to Lakefront.
“I liked everything at Doubleday because everything was together and I feel like people can shop the stores a little easier if you are already in Doubleday because it is closer to Main Street,” she said.
“That is just my perception, and it is good no matter what.”
Rickard said she really enjoys to shop so she always looks for local vendors while attending the carnival.
“The food competitions are great too. Those are my two favorite things to do,” she said.
Although Rickard has been coming to the carnival for many years, she said she had never seen the dog show before.
“It has probably been my favorite thing so far,” she said after the competition on Saturday.
Cooperstown resident Willis Monie, whose dog, Sophie, won best costume, said he felt it was a bit cramped in the tent, but was happy to be where it would be warmer not only for the humans but for the dogs.
Monie said he and his wife, Dina Sams, try to get to a lot of the events offered at the carnival each year. After the dog show, he said he was looking forward to the chicken wing and lip sync contests. He said he really enjoyed the “BritishMania” Beatles tribute band that performed at the Otesaga Resort Hotel on Friday night.
“There is just so much to do. There is a wine tasting, a chocolate event. We do all those,” Monie continued.
Meg Preston of Hartwick said she comes just for the dog show now that she is older. Her 2-year-old Labrador retriever, Lila, has won the speaking contest two years in a row.
“I grew up in Cooperstown and there is just so many wonderful things going on.for all ages, so even though I do not partake in it right now, there is a lot of things going on.”
Leveille said the idea of having tents set up at Lakefront Park was to create a more centralized area for people to converge.
“I’ve been told the tents used to be down here years ago and Lakefront is kind of where it started, so we thought it would be a good idea to move the tents from Doubleday Parking down to Lakefront,” she said. “We are hoping it continues to go that way. It just seems like a better spot for things.”