Columbus, OH

Downtown festival WinterFest returns Saturday for sixth year

The Lantern
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WinterFest, a yearly holiday event put on by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. Credit: Courtesy of WinterFest Columbus

The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department’s sixth annual WinterFest event is set to unfold Saturday.

The free event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Dorrian Green park, which is located at 50 S. Belle St., according to WinterFest’s website . Attendees can expect food trucks, live music, holiday-themed photo ops and more, the website states.

Dominique Shank, the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department’s community relations chief, said WinterFest is designed to showcase Columbus’ creative community.

“We really wanted to highlight some of our local vendors,” Shank said. “In terms of our food trucks, as well as our beverage vendors, but we also want to showcase some of some local talent in terms of our musical performance.”

With an array of food truck vendors like Cottage Pizza, Schmidt’s Sausage Truck and Fork in Nigeria — all of which will donate 10 percent of profits to the Mid-Ohio Food Collective — WinterFest encourages visitors to “eat local and support a good cause,” according to the event’s website .

Paddy Wagon, a food truck that specializes in modern American street cuisine, is one of the many vendors who will be at WinterFest 2023. Owner Zach James said Paddy Wagon prides itself on offering a wide range of meals for different customers.

“We do modern barbecue and wrapped grilled cheese, and our menu offers vegetarian options, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free options,” James said. “So there’s a variety for any dietary restrictions.”

James said he views WinterFest as a valuable opportunity to connect with Columbus residents and other locals, which he said has kept Paddy Wagon coming back for roughly four years.

“Winterfest is a great community outing,” James said. “And especially in a time of year where there aren’t a lot of public events where the community can gather. So it’s one of the last opportunities before the end of the year for us to get out and make everyone happy with our food.”

WinterFest is also partnering with five local breweries — including Columbus Brewing Company, Jackie O’s and Wolf’s Ridge Brewing — to “offer a seasonal craft beer sampling experience,” its website states.

Seventh Son Brewing Company is another beverage-based vendor set to participate in this year’s winter festivities. Colin Vent, head brewer at Seventh Son, said WinterFest allows the company to reach a new audience while still connecting with its preexisting fans.

“We want to make sure our beers [are] there so people that go like, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s Seventh Son, I love these guys,’ and make sure that we’re part of an event that they’re already at,” Vent said. “These kinds of events are very good for introducing people to our beers that maybe we’ve never had. You have people paying tickets or going to an event expressly to enjoy different kinds of beers, so it’s nice for our beer to be part of that.”

Vent said Seventh Son’s special winter IPA will be available for purchase at the event. Though the IPA was brewed with the Christmas season in mind, Vent said it also possesses a sense of longevity.

“We don’t want to exclude people that don’t celebrate Christmas,” Vent said. “We brewed a pretty classic IPA, but then we added orange peels and ginger and coriander to it to make it a little bit extra citrusy.”

WinterFest also presents a diverse musical lineup, featuring live performances from blues, rock, pop, soul and house artists, according to the event website .

Columbus-based, indie-pop-soul duo Honey and Blue is one such featured band and will be performing from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Adam Darling, Honey and Blue’s singer-songwriter and guitarist, said he and his musical counterpart, Stephanie Amber, look forward to performing their new music as well as seasonal favorites.

“We might play a Christmas song or two and we will be playing two of our new songs that we released this year,” Darling said. “One’s called ‘Brighter Days’ and the other one’s called ‘Better Than The Last.’ So we’re really promoting heavily those two songs particularly, so we’re excited to play those out.”

Honey and Blue will embrace any opportunity to play live, particularly in Columbus, Darling said.

“Anytime I have a guitar in my hands, I’m grateful to be doing that,” Darling said. “We love the music scene. I’m an OSU grad myself. So it’s great to be in town and have a great support group and to be able to play live music.”

Though WinterFest is mainly targeted toward the 21-plus age group, Shank said Columbus residents of all ages are welcome.

“This is a family-friendly event so this event is also open to children as well,” Shank said. “We’ll have a mechanical reindeer and giant snow globe, photo opportunities and cornhole to enjoy the large playground scenery at the Dorrian Green park.”

More information about WinterFest can be found on the event’s website .

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