Celebrate WinterFest 2023 in Southold

The inaugural Southold WinterFest was such a success that it's back for more.
The inaugural Southold WinterFest was such a success that it’s back for more.

Organizers are gearing up for the 2nd annual Southold WinterFest, set for Saturday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Rain date is February 19.) The free event was launched last year by the Economic Development Committee (EDC) of Southold Town to support local businesses and provide a fun diversion for residents and visitors alike.

“We wanted to let people on Long Island and beyond know that Southold is not just a summer destination,” says Jack Malley, chairperson of the Southold EDC and head of the WinterFest Committee. “There’s a lot of places to see and things to do.”

Last February’s inaugural event was a hit, attracting hundreds of visitors, and organizers expect vendor participation to double this year, according to Malley.

Events will take place in several locations along Main Road in Southold, including the gazebo area at the Youngs Avenue intersection and a parking lot across from the Southold Free Library, as well as various organizations and businesses.

The historic First Presbyterian Church Southold will host an indoor line dancing exhibition with lessons by Lady T, and an outdoor firepit with s’mores, gourmet stuffed potatoes and more.

Across from the library, there will be a DJ, ice sculptor, face painting, juggling and other fun diversions for kids and families. An interactive mobile library vehicle known as the SLED (Suffolk Libraries Empowering Discovery) will also be on hand.

The Rob Europe Band will perform in the gazebo.

Hopefully it snows for Winterfest
Hopefully it snows for Winterfest

“It’s a very accomplished band that is really popular out here, and we’re very happy they’re going to be playing,” says Brian Smith, a member of both the Southold EDC and WinterFest Committee. Other exhibitors will include the Rotary Club of Southold, Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, the Eastern Front Brewing Company in Mattituck, Roger Satnick Jewelers in Southold, Bogey’s Bottled Goods in Southold and many more.

Save the Dogs’ exhibit will include two dogs that are available for adoption, while the Southold Fish Market will return with its popular clam shucking event.

“The owner, Charlie Manwaring, stood out in the freezing cold last year and shucked what must have been 1,000 clams all by himself and gave them away for free, just to support the community,” Smith says.

Another returning participant is The Giving Room, a Southold yoga studio, juice bar and wellness center, which will be offering free yoga and free peppermint smoothies.

“The WinterFest is a truly special day in the Town of Southold,” says Paula DiDonato, owner of The Giving Room. “Small business owners benefit from the opportunity to welcome local residents and visitors. Special sales, raffles and free offerings create an atmosphere of celebration and appreciation. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the best of Southold and to support your favorite small businesses.”

Custer Institute and Observatory, a Southold nonprofit organization, will also be on hand again with sky viewing and an astronomy exhibit for kids and adults.

“We plan to have a similar display as last year, enabling visitors to view the sun through a telescope and on screen,” says Custer Institute Vice President Alan Cousins. “The sun has been more active in recent months, so hopefully there will be multiple sunspots and prominences to observe.”

CAST (Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation), a local social services organization, is hosting Sammie and Tudie’s Comedy Magic Circus, along with balloon making, plate spinning and a cookie decorating workshop in the CAST kitchen. The nonprofit will also provide lite bites from the North Fork Culinary Program along with flamenco dancing with performer/instructor Juana Cala.

The Southold Historical Museum will feature several exhibitors, activities and children’s crafts, while local shops and restaurants will get in on the action with various activities and specials. The Corks & Taps Pub will have live music by the Ron Rothman Band.

“We are both impressed and overwhelmed by the enthusiastic support from the community, both among participants and the WinterFest Committee itself, which is all volunteer and has done a great job,” Smith says. “Now all we need is for it not to rain.”

He adds, “A small amount of snow would be OK, since it is WinterFest.”