Winter has been pretty dreary so far, but that’s not keeping the townspeople of Chester from looking forward to their 25th annual winter celebration, Chester Winter Carnivale, on Sunday, February 15.
That’s when the picturesque small town of Chester is filled with people cheering on ice carvers as they create beautiful sculptures from blocks of ice, while laughing at the antics of street performers and applauding a long parade of new and antique tractors being driven down Main Street by their proud owners. All that, and food, music, art, and shopping too!
The day begins at 10:30 a.m. when the carvers get started on their ice sculptures. Both professional and student ice carvers will be hard at work, demonstrating their techniques to onlookers while they try to be finished by 1 p.m. for judging.
Meanwhile, the Chester Hose Company is holding its 15th annual “Chilly Chili Cook Off” fundraiser. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., go to the Chester Hose Company Fire House at 6 High Street and pay your $5 admission so you can taste all the different chilis cooked and dished out by restaurants, caterers and fire departments. You can vote for your favorite fire department chili, favorite restaurant chili, most original chili, and best dressed chili serving table. Beverages will be sold. All proceeds go to the Chester Hose Company.
Still hungry? There’s pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chowder, soups, and lots more available inside and outside the restaurants in town. Also, hot chocolate, popcorn, kettle corn, and cupcakes – everything to satisfy every taste.
Just be sure to be back out on Main Street by 2 p.m. for the 14th Annual Chester Tractor Parade. Colorful and rusty, big and small, antique and new, decorated and plain – tractors are driven through the town center in an incredibly long parade. You never knew there were so many tractors in the Connecticut River Valley!
There is no shortage of free activities to keep the whole family entertained for the day. Colorful beads and balloons will be handed out throughout town all day and face painting is available at Century 21 Heritage. The Chester Museum at The Mill will be open at no charge, offering a place to explore Chester history. A photo booth will be at Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Art, where there will also be a free workshop for kids between 6 and 11 years, led by artist Carol Young from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m.
Other galleries and shops will be open, many with special events. The Spring Street String Band, Arrowhead, will be playing from noon to 2 p.m. at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery. Winter sales will be going on at a number of stores.
Chester Winter Carnivale is held rain or snow or shine. Main Street will be closed to traffic. Free parking is available in the commuter lot on Rte. 148 at the foot of Route 9 and in the Roto-Frank parking lot on Inspiration Lane (exit 6) and at Greenwald Industries on Rte. 154 (212 Middlesex Avenue). (Follow the signs.) All lots will be served by courtesy shuttle buses to the town center.
For more information, go to facebook.com/chesterctwintercarnivale