Newport’s Winterfest finds a new home

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Over 800 community members came out Saturday to enjoy Newport’s Winter Festival from a new location on the banks of Prouty Beach.

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The event, which had been hosted at Gardner Park for decades, included music, horse-drawn wagon rides, hot food, fireworks and thanks to some excavation work at the park this fall, a brand new community sledding hill.

“The Waterfront Recreation Path was a project we began at Prouty Beach in October to connect the bike path with the new trails going in at the Bluffside Farm next summer,” said Jessica Booth, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Newport. “During construction, our Public Works crew removed a lot of material from the park leaving behind some rolling hills and slopes next to our summer camp building. It didn’t take long for us to realize the potential for sledding there in the winter.”

On Saturday, local kids came in droves and tried out their snowboards, tubes, and sleds in every shape and size.

The evening was spent fearlessly traversing the hillside with friends, siblings, and pairs of parents and kids eager for their next turn to ride down.

Thrill-seekers branched off and made new trails in the nooks and crannies of the hilly shoreline, breaking only for sips of hot cocoa and a roasted marshmallow.

The more mellow guests, who were less intrigued by the sledding hill, enjoyed a variety of family activities including a progressive story walk hosted by the Vermont Land Trust and scenic wagon rides with breathtaking views of Lake Memphremagog.

Many snowmobilers rode-in off the V.A.S.T. trail to warm up by the bonfires and enjoy the food and fireworks.

“We are very pleased with the turnout and plan to make Prouty the new, permanent home for Newport’s Winter Festival,” Booth said. “It’s all part of the City’s effort to highlight Lake Memphremagog and create more outdoor recreation opportunities for our residents and visitors.”

Prouty Beach is closed to vehicles during the winter, but Parks & Recreation staff plan to keep a path plowed for access to that area of the park for sledding.

Families can leave vehicles at North Country High School and walk a short distance across the soccer field to go enjoy the hill.

Snowmobilers are also permitted in the park on the marked V.A.S.T. trails.

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