Frigid weather and state COVID-19 restrictions presented challenges, but the 18th annual WinterFest event went on as planned last weekend in Crosslake.
“WinterFest was a success despite the cold temperatures and ridiculous wind chills,” Crosslake Chamber Director Cindy Myogeto told the Crosslake City Council on Monday, Feb. 8.
People watched fireworks from vehicles and warmed up by a bonfire Friday, Feb. 5, at the community center, and then turned out Saturday, Feb. 6, to search for a hidden medallion and sample soup at 15 SoupFest locations across town, even as temperatures hovered in the single digits below zero.
“The businesses thought it was a successful event,” Myogeto said, and then explained why the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade had to be canceled for the second year.
After the scrutiny to have WinterFest, she said, “there’s absolutely no way they're going to allow 20,000 people on the streets in Crosslake in 33 days.”
State COVID-19 guidelines currently limit outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 250 people who can follow 6-foot social distancing, and there’s no end in sight for this restriction, Myogeto said. She had a two-hour phone call with the attorney general’s office and other state officials that included a line by line review of WinterFest events to ensure they could be held safely.
"There’s absolutely no way they're (State of Minnesota) going to allow 20,000 people on the streets in Crosslake in 33 days."
— Cindy Myogeto explaining why the annual Crosslake St. Patrick’s Day Parade had to be canceled again this year.
“We had to jump through quite a few hoops to have WinterFest,” she said, and events were held according to state guidelines.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes months to organize, and there’s just no time with no dialing back of guidelines expected.
“We just can’t pull off the caliber of parade we host at this point,” Myogeto said.
“The bars and restaurants are absolutely packed on that day and they simply do not have the personnel to keep a grip on that 50 percent capacity limit,” she said, noting those businesses have done everything possible to keep their licenses, avoid fines and stay open. “They’re just not willing to risk it at this point.”
"We just can’t pull off the caliber of (St.Patrick's Day) parade we host at this point."
— Crosslake Chamber Director, Cindy Myogeto
The St. Patrick’s Day event is one of the biggest revenue days of the year for Crosslake businesses, so the chamber is hoping to have other events - perhaps a citywide decorating contest of homes and businesses and an electronic, app-based scavenger hunt at businesses to also help spur the city’s economy.
Myogeto said guests are not canceling their reservations, but are opting to come to Crosslake despite no parade so they have to have something to do.
During the nearly past year, some businesses have flourished, some have remained static and others have suffered, she said. All are exhausted from abiding by guidelines, but every business has worked harder than ever before under stress to remain open and empathy for employees who aren’t working or earning tips, she said.
Most Crosslake bars’ and restaurants’ financial statements are relatively flat, but Myogeto said the city is lucky that most are well established as newer businesses are struggling more.
Salons, gyms and catering businesses have simply lost revenue with no opportunity to get it back after having to be closed.
Myogeto said resorts were terrified until Memorial Day, when people decided to spend time at resorts.
“Resorts basically had a fairly good summer,” she said, but hotels are not faring that well as they’ve lost wedding and sports tournament guests.
Andy's Bar and Grill, culinary division, Bacon Cheeseburger Soup.
Advantage Seamless Gutters, amateur division, BRRRueben Soup.
Whitefish at the Lakes Senior Living, Fresh Fire Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Smoked Gouda Bisque. They also placed second in the People’s Choice.
Bryan Smith, of Blaine, found the WinterFest medallion next to a CarSonNite pipe (a composite material) by the Pine River near Riverside Inn. He won a gift basket courtesy of Crosslake Chamber member businesses valued at more than $1,750.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.