The weather wasn't as cooperative as it could have been, but community response to Bemus Point's inaugural WinterFest certainly was.
On Saturday, the seven-hour-long event- intended to raise money to support Chautauqua County's snowmobile clubs - took place at Bemus Point Golf Course. It was supported by hundreds of area residents, and complemented by local and regional business support and sponsorship.
The benefit was jointly sponsored by Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Services and TheRiderScope.com, and featured a number of group-sponsored activities, such as a snow-volleyball tournament, best snowman, golf chipping, craziest snowmobile costume, a glow stick snowmobile parade and a "drive-in"/"sled-in" theater. Other events and activities included a groomed demo snowmobile course, groomer rides by Ellery Sno-Cruisers, a vintage snowmobile show, cross-country skiing, cornhole, sledding and a 50/50.
Hundreds of area residents attended the inaugural WinterFest on Saturday at Bemus Point Golf Course.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
More impressive than the event itself was the fact that it all came together within a three-week timespan. According to Bryce Steffen, co-owner of Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Services, the original concept for the benefit was conceived during a dinner with his wife and business partner on Jan. 8.
"We were just having dinner, and my wife said 'I want to give something back to the community, what do you think about having some kind of event?' And it just kind of snowballed from there," Steffen said.
Steffen said he and the other event organizers initially began attempting to create community interest by making cold calls, but word of mouth ultimately took over and they soon had businesses contacting them about sponsorship and participation opportunities.
"People and businesses in the area have been absolutely wonderful about bringing people here," Steffen said. "The turnout has definitely exceeded my expectations. I wish the weather was a little bit more cooperative, though."
Steffen said, based on the turnout and response to this year's WinterFest, he anticipates making an annual event out of it for as long as there remains an interest.
"It just depends on the (Bemus Point Golf Course) owners and whether or not they want to continue to do it," he said. "If they don't, then we might try to find another location to do it next year."
For more information on Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Services or any updates regarding future WinterFest events, visit www.clsnowmobiles.com or search for "Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Services" on Facebook.