Draft horses and their driver gave bobsled rides on the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center grounds at last year's festival, Saturday, Jan. 13. The bobsled rides were among the many activities offered during Winter Festival.

Nature in Flight is this year’s theme for the Kickapoo Valley Reserve’s Winter Festival, Saturday, Jan. 12.

“Anything from birds to seeds to the weather to the skies to wild life fleeing,” Jackie Yocum, Winter Festival coordinator, said.

On-site activities will go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center and grounds; admission is free. Horse-drawn bobsled rides will be available, as well as Winter Festival apparel made by Iverson Designs that will be available for purchase.

Raffle drawings will take place all day and being present is not necessary to win.

Yocum said, the raffle prizes include gift certificates from Bluedog Cycles, four Larry Fest tickets, Shoebox, two pairs of Cabela snowshoes, a fur hat from Wild Things in Rockton and an original chainsaw carving by Aaron Larson from a tree that was on the reserve.

The day will kick off with the Resolution Run 5K Run/Walk sponsored by Organic Valley starting at 9 a.m. and will begin at the Organic Valley headquarters. Participants can register online at the Winter Festival website.

River Valley Raptors will be giving presentations on the raptors of Wisconsin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the visitor center. The presentation will include live birds.

The La Farge Lions Club returns with their bread and chili cook-off. The sampling of the chili and bread will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sign-up information and rules can be found at the Winter Festival website, and everyone is allowed to participate.

A frozen canoe race will begin at noon on the town of Stark grounds, unless there is not enough snow.

“(There will be) eight teams of five people who will race the canoe on snow,” Yocum said. “(It’s) a 100-yard sprint (with) two people on each side with one leg in and one out, with another person pushing in the back.”

There is no entry fee but the team that wins will get prize money curtesy of Friends of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Teams can enter by calling the KVR at 608-625-2960.

Sled dog races begin at 10:30 a.m. on the town of Stark grounds, and carts will be substituted for the sleds if need be.

Penguin races, a new event, are set to launch at noon and will go until 2 p.m.

“(It’s) a winter version of a duck race,” Yocum said. “All ages are welcome and families are encouraged.”

There is a charge of $1 per race and the winner of the race gets half. Each race will have 10 penguins and will take place on the visitor center deck.

Off-site activities will continue into the evening. A candlelight ski, snowshoe or hike will be at Wildcat State Park beginning at 5 p.m. At the same time there will be winter star gazing thanks to KVR Astro Educators.

A shuttle bus will be running from the visitor center to the town of Stark building and grounds throughout the day.

“The visitor center is a good place to start,” Yocum said.

For a full schedule of events visit the Kickapoo Valley Reserve website or call 608-625-2960.

Winter Festival is co-sponsored by the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, Native American Tourism of Wisconsin and Friends of the KVR.

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Sahnje McGonigle can be reached at


Vernon County Broadcaster reporter

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