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WinterFest Brings Easthampton Together

Businesses and residents invest in and celebrate the Easthampton Community

Once again, the Easthampton community came together to invest their time and support in WinterFest and raise much-needed funds for Nashawannuck Pond. The 11th annual event on Feb. 10 included over 35 events and countless volunteers all across the city. 

“We encourage businesses and organizations to think outside the box, working together to support each other while supporting the health of the pond we all love,” explained Beth Tiffany, a member of the Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee. “The nice thing about WinterFest is that it offers local businesses the opportunity to support the event, and thereby the pond, in many different and important ways. February can be a quiet time in Easthampton, after the holidays. WinterFest attracts many people from different areas outside of Easthampton.”

WinterFest actually begins in January with online photo contests and snowflake-making contests, as well as trivia about Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream flavor and the pond itself. On the big day, the trivia continued at New City Brewery. Abandoned Building Brewery hosted chili tasting and bingo. The municipal lot at 50 Payson Ave. hosted community organizations such as Resilient Arts, Girl Scouts and a kids community service group raising funds for Dakin Humane Society, as well as horse-drawn wagon rides from Clay Hill Farm and food from Thai Chili Food Truck and Mama Sweet Treats. At Nashawannuck Pond, the fire department held a polar plunge, a community fire and a historical ice harvest with historian Dennis Picard. To warm up after the outdoor events, attendees could visit the vendor and craft fair at Keystone Mill.

The $11,000 raised from WinterFest will go right back into Nashawannuck Pond to maintain and improve it. Some of those projects include the installation of barley straw to deter cyanobacteria, consultation and treatment fees to evaluate and kill invasive plants and evaluating the shoreline stability in four areas of the pond. There are also administration fees to take care of such as the website and newsletters.

The six volunteers of the Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee start planning the event in the fall and manage the event through the day of activities, organizing and modifying as the weather requires.

“WinterFest was first planned in 2003, the brainchild of committee member Liz Provo, who retired from the committee in 2011,” recalled Tiffany. ”It started with the same historical ice harvester and a community fire and it has just continued to grow and change over the years.”

The committee received a $500 grant from the Mass Cultural Council to help support WinterFest. In 2023, the steering committee formed a 501c3 organization which will make it easier to raise funds.

“The Friends of Nashawannuck Pond was formed to help raise money to support the Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee and the city for maintaining the pond,” explained Tiffany. “This organization can apply for grant funding more easily than it could as a municipal steering committee.”

  • Residents jumped into the pond during the Polar Plunge.