Out-of-state visitors and local businesses alike enjoy Winterfest

Syracuse's annual winter festival is underway with ice skating and drink mix-offs, and the fun will continue until Feb. 24.

The 27th Annual Syracuse Winterfest is bringing members of the Onondaga County community together once again this year. The idea, which was dreamed up by Bill Cooper and volunteers 27 years ago, has now attracted over thousands of people over the years, giving them a taste of what the cities, businesses and people of upstate New York have to offer during the chilly winter months. 

At the Clinton Square ice skating rink, Syracuse resident Mary Kawa, 35, said that she has been bringing her daughters Evie, 6, and Elizabeth, 8, to the Winterfest for four years.

"It's something to do that's fun outside with this crazy weather. I've started the tradition of coming to the rink with my two daughters every Christmas when my brother comes to town," she said. "Today's just for practice." 

The event has even attracted visitors from outside New York. The Barnes family, from Atlanta, Ga., have come twice.

"I like the wipeouts and when we fall. I want to keep coming," said Ethan Barnes, 13, at the ice skating rink.

Winterfest is fun for the visitors, but it also greatly benefits the downtown businesses of Syracuse. A few streets over at Hanover Square, many lined up outside of the comedy clubs, restaurants and pubs. The annual Martini and Hurricane Mix-Off created friendly competition for the businesses, said Jamie Bullis, manager of Bear & Bull Pub. He was confident that the pub would enjoy its first win this year.

"Winterfest impacts our business a lot. Newcomers and samplers learn about us just by walking around. It's wonderful!" Bullis said.

The Syracuse Winterfest ends Sunday, February 24 with the Chowder Cookoff, CNY Scholastic Art Awards Exhibit, Sesame Street Live and Bloody Mary Mix-Off and much more events. For more updates and information visit the Syracuse Winterfest calendar of events.

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