Fortville Winter Fest Keeps On Growing
The Fortville Winter Festival was originally envisioned as a classic small town celebration of the holiday season — but that hasn’t stopped organizers from adding some contemporary touches to the annual event.
A zip-line and miniature train rides for the kids highlight the list of new additions for the fourth annual festival, which comes to downtown Fortville from 2-8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Having been involved with organizing each of the previous festivals, Fortville resident Bob Sterett said it’s been a hit with the community, noting it drew roughly 4,000 people last year. Even so, he said they’re always seeking attractions that will draw an even wider cross-section of the community.
“We try really hard to add something new every year, to maybe get a few more people who weren’t there last year,” Sterett said.
The festival shuts down five blocks of Main Street to make way for Santa Claus, a performance stage and horse-drawn wagon rides. There is an hour-long community parade at 3 p.m. and a Snowflake Princess contest to determine which young girl flips the switch on the downtown light display at 6 p.m.
Sterett, who heads-up the organizing committee with his wife Milda, said the day wraps up with fire pits on Main Street when it gets dark.
“It’s just a wonderful event,” he said. “It’s a nice way to kick off the holiday season.”
The festival is held the first Saturday of December each year. Since that falls on Pearl Harbor Day in 2013, Sterett said there would be a memorial with The Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers bagpipe troupe.
Admission to the festival is free and Sterett said they make a point of keeping things affordable, saying the wagon rides and zip-line will be only $5 each.
“We try very hard to make it affordable for families to come and have a great day and see friends they maybe haven’t seen in a while,” he said.
To help celebrate winter fun, girls aged 5 through fifth grade can participate in the Snowflake Princess Contest. Participants donate funds to help provide gifts for local children in need, with the winner determined by a random drawing. Participants can enter by making a donation of any size, with additional entries available in $25 increments.
“We want everyone to have an opportunity,” said Sterett. “It’s been a really fun part of the festival.”
The Winter Festival itself is the primary fundraiser for Fortville Action Inc., a nonprofit organization that was incorporated in 2012. Sterett said the group has been involved with several community improvement activities, adding that they refurbished local trash barrels and helped purchase a new entry sign for the community.
The Steretts got involved with the festival shortly after moving to Fortville. Bob Sterett said the downtown was going through a patch of high vacancies and thought a community celebration seemed like a good way to bring people back to the area.
“We thought if we could get people to come to town, maybe they would remember what it used to be like,” he said. “We have a really cool main street, it’s just the buildings were empty.”
For more information about the festival, visit fortvillewinterfestival.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.