2017-02-16 / Outdoors

From broomball to chili to perch, Leelanau plans a big weekend

One fest each for Northport, Glen Arbor and Empire
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


SNOWMOBILES FIND enough of the white stuff to have some fun in Solon Township. Although warm temps are planned for the weekend, organizers of three community festivals say weather won’t impede their plans. SNOWMOBILES FIND enough of the white stuff to have some fun in Solon Township. Although warm temps are planned for the weekend, organizers of three community festivals say weather won’t impede their plans. Tom Pope has handed his ‘dipping shorts over to his son, Cody.

Pope, a 60-something Empire resident, will be on the sidelines Saturday for the annual Polar Plunge. It’s a signature event for the Empire Winterfest, which is one of three winter celebrations in the county scheduled over President’s Day weekend.

Northport has a winter carnival planned that annually draws hundreds of people to Braman Hill, while perch and chili will top events in Glen Arbor.

“I’ve handed it down to the younger generation,” continued Pope, who estimates he took the plunge for more than 20 years. “Cody is coming this weekend from New York. He can pick up the slack.”

Dozens of people — coming from throughout the Grand Traverse region — will gather at Empire Beach at 3 p.m. to take part in the annual cabin fever reliever.

Then they’ll head over to the Empire town hall to warm up with some soup at the Empire Area Community Center’s soup cook-off, scheduled from 4-7 p.m.

Local cooks are invited to bring a pot of their favorite soup to share by 3:30 p.m.. Prizes of $50, $30 and $20 will be awarded to the top three concoctions.

Sunday morning the Empire Lions Club will wrap up the weekend festivities with a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon at the township hall.

Glen Arbor’s Winterfest celebrations kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday with a perch fishing contest on Glen Lake.

Prizes will be given out for first through fourth place catches. Participants should bring their biggest catches from big and little Glen Lake to The Sportsman Shop at 1 p.m., where fish will be weighed and measured and the winners crowned.

All ages are welcome to enter this contest. The entry fee is $20; an entry form can be downloaded at visitglenarbor.com/event/2017-glen-lake-winterfest/.

The chili cook-off starts at noon at Boone Docks, where the winners of the best chili, as determined by popular vote, will be crowned at 3 p.m.

Plaques commemorating the 2017 cook-off will be given to the 1st through fifth-place winners.

Entry fee for this event is $25 per chili. For chili-eaters — and voters — admission is $10 per person, which includes unlimited samples. Seniors and kids 12 and under can join in the fun for just $5.

All proceeds from the event benefit the Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Glen Lake Schools Scholarship Fund.

People should get there early if they want a seat indoors. But it may not be too bad on the deck as temperatures could reach 50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

It should make for a great day at Braman Hill in Northport for the Northport-Omena Chamber of Commerce Winter Carnival.

Scott Cain, the chairperson of this year’s event, is optimistic about festivities even with predicted springlike temperatures.

“I think it’ll be just fine. The only event that may be impacted is the kids’ sled race,” Cain said. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough snow for that.”

Crews have been flooding the ice rink at Braman this week in preparation for the annual broom ball tournament and milk jug curling.

“It might be a bit slushy, but it will be fine with what we’re planning to do,” Cain said.

Other planned activities scheduled between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. include the Northport Promise Chili Cook-off; a Frisbee golf putting green, carriage rides and the chamber’s “treasurer chest” raffle.

“Local merchants have donated the contents of the chest but the items are unknown — so it will be a big surprise to the winner,” Cain said.

Tickets are $5 each and will be available throughout the day Saturday. The raffle drawing is set for 3 p.m.

Proceeds from the raffle will help cover the cost of the event which includes free hot dogs, hot chocolate and music.

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