When the folks of downtown Petoskey wanted to show the rest of the country just how great it is to be a northerner in the wintertime, a festival was born.  A very Up North festival chock full of funky competitions (think beard growing and American Idol, small town style), food, music, and of course, a parade.  The 2010 Winter Blues Festival happening Monday, February 15- Saturday, February 21, gives visitors and residents alike plenty of reasons to brave the cold.

“Winter Blues Festival was born in 2009, as a weeklong celebration of winter, snow, and the beauty of Northern Michigan,” said festival organizer Kathy Bardins.  “It is also a ‘cabin fever’ breaker, with events to get people into our historic downtown to enjoy all the wonderful stores and restaurants we have to offer.”

With a schedule of casual and wacky events, Bardins said the festival is family-friendly and has something for folks of all ages.  “We decided that we don’t have to just do events in the spring and summer, but should celebrate all of the winter activities in Northern Michigan,” she added.

Things heat up on Monday with the second annual Hot Dish Cook-off at the Mackinaw Trail Winery.  Winning cooks will receive gift certificates for downtown merchants, and taste testers can get in on the action with a $5 donation to the Manna Food Project.  On Wednesday evening at 6 p.m., the snow-lined streets will be aglow with a torchlight parade.  The “Mardi Gras” style event is currently taking entries for floats, walking ensembles and musicians.

In addition, there will be blues music lined up throughout the week; a progressive dinner through downtown restaurants; a “key hunt” leading to a treasure of gifts from local merchants; a signing competition; also the much-anticipated judging of the month-long bread growing contest (with prizes for the best and most pitiful facial growth).  For more information, a Winter Blues Festival schedule, or entry forms for a variety of contests, visit petoskeydowntown.com.

Read more about Petoskey in winter.

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