Featured image: A broomball game from a previous Newport Winter Festival in Newport, Vermont (photo credit: Newport Parks & Recreation)
Newport, Vermont, is at the southern edge of beautiful freshwater glacial Lake Memphremagog, which stretches 32 miles to Magog, Québec. In the winter, the lake turns into a natural rink with ice often freezing as much as two feet thick.
That’s when Newport Parks & Recreation hosts a full day of fun activities on the lake during the Newport Winter Festival. This year’s celebration is Saturday, February 3. Enjoy ice skating, snowmobile races, a broomball tournament, shopping, a bonfire, and fireworks. And, weather permitting, two-feet thick blocks of ice are harvested from the lake and stacked about four high to create an ice castle.
Newport Parks & Recreation plows a 1,000-foot track on the lake outside the Eastside Restaurant, 47 Landing Street, for the Fire & Ice Snowmobile Radar Runs, where the top speeds sometimes exceed 130 miles per hour. Racers compete in a variety of age divisions and celebrate with the winners at a banquet inside the restaurant. Registration starts at 9 a.m., followed by the races at 11 a.m. For information and to register, contact Ken Wells at (802) 766-9236 or (802) 344-2340.
The broomball tournament is also played on the frozen lake. Broomball, a traditional Vermont North Country game, is a version of ice hockey played without skates. Players use brooms to move a ball toward the goal, similar to a hockey net, and score when they hit the ball into the goal. Teams are co-ed, and registration is $10 per person. Proceeds help fund the festival’s fireworks.
If you prefer staying indoors or want to warm up, check out the Vendor Fair at the Newport American Legion Post #21, 35 Veterans Avenue. Local crafters and consultants will sell products and services 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Proceeds go to the legion.
The day ends with the Winter Festival Finale—free ice skating, sugar on snow, a bonfire, fireworks, a game of laser tag on ice, Hoagie’s pizza eating contest, and the Chuck-a-Puck 50/50 fundraiser. The North Country Chamber of Commerce also recognizes two young community members for good citizenship and a willingness to help others throughout the past year. They’ll announce the winners before the fireworks start.
Admission to all activities is free, but donations are appreciated. For more information, visit the Newport Winter Festival’s website or call (802) 334-6345.
Newport, Vermont, is a 3.5-hour drive northwest of Boston.