Addie (shown) makes a bluebird nesting box to take home with assistance provided by Sean Minnick of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society. Just like last year, people can build a bluebird nesting box using free materials. Photo Provided

Winterfest 2020 is this Saturday, January 18, with free, fun, family-friendly activities at Hills Creek State Park.

“Snow or no snow, ice or no ice, Winterfest 2020 is a go and everything's free!" said Tim Morey, organizer. 

Despite cold temperatures and snow being predicted for this Friday and Saturday, Winterfest's "presenters are planning to be there. If visitors can drive safely to Hills Creek on Saturday and there is enough snow, the fun will increase," Morey said. 

Tubes for two and some sleds, ice skates, snowshoes and cross-country skis, boots, and poles will be available to sign out and use for free during the day. However, quantities are limited and those who have their own equipment are encouraged to bring it.

"We don't need a lot of snow for sledding down Beach Front Hill on tubes, toboggans, sleds and snowboards," said Morey, while also adding: “I am excited about the other programs and events we have lined up that don't require snow or ice!"


Tim Morey is shown with an ice saw and ice tongs used for cutting and moving blocks of ice from local ponds and lakes to homes to preserve food in "ice boxes"100 years ago. Source: John Eaton

Listed below are some of the activities and events Winterfest 2020 will have to offer, snow or no snow:

  •  If there is enough snow, the introduction to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing mini-clinics will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Adults and kids of all ages can sign out snowshoes and skis to use in the park for free until 3 p.m. If there is not enough snow, the mini-clinics will be from noon to 2 p.m, and people will be shown how to select appropriate equipment to purchase.
  • From 11:30 a.m. to noon, talks about ice harvesting and how ice was used to keep food cold more than a hundred years ago will be presented with a look at some of the historic tools that were used.
  • From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will be a program with ice fishing tips and tricks on how to get started and demonstrations on land.
  • Visitors can hike on park trails or participate in different types of guided walks or hikes. At 10 a.m. will be a winter tree identification hike led by forester Steve Hoover. Tiadaghton Audubon Society members will take visitors on impromptu birding walks between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and scheduled 30-minute birding walks at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Bring binoculars and cameras. 
  • From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be fat-tired snow bike demonstrations. Tom Gibson of Milton is bringing several pairs of new, longer Tracker Skishoes he invented for people to look at, put on, and try out. Skishoes are a combination ski and snowshoe with a built-in traction device.
  • Build a bluebird nesting box to take home between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. with all materials provided free. 
  • Mel "Longknife" Stafford, a reenactor portraying an 18th century Eastern mountain man, will do pioneer-style outdoor cooking demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and give out free samples of his freshly made donuts. 
  • Free hot dogs and hot chocolate will be available to everyone from 11 a.m. until gone. Fire rings and burn barrels will help visitors stay warm.
  • At 12 p.m. and again at 1:30 p.m., "Meet the Owls of Pennsylvania, a 30-minute program for adults and children. Find out how to identify local owls by call and key features. 

Snow and ice condition updates will be posted at and on Facebook at Step Outdoors Tioga PA. For more information, call Hills Creek State Park at 570-724-4246 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m..

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.