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Winter Festival brings snow to Hancock

February 14, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HANCOCK -- searching for new ideas for Hancock's annual Winter Festival during a visit to New England, Dave and Vickie Hott decided to bring Hancock residents a taste of Vermont - literally.

The couple discovered a recipe for a sweet Vermont treat that involves boiling maple syrup and pouring it over snow. They bought some syrup, then, fearing snow would not be in the forecast for Saturday's festival, they packed a cooler of snow to take back to the festival.

Vickie Hott heated the syrup on a camp stove in the Widmeyer Park bandstand Saturday and dished it out with pickle slices, Vermonters' traditional after-snow snack to counter the syrup's sweetness.

"We're always looking for new and different things to add to our festival," she said. The Hotts are members of the Hancock Arts Council, which sponsors the event.

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The Sugar on Snow was one of several new additions to the festival, which was held for the eighth year Saturday.

Another popular new feature was a bonfire built in an old wash basin in the center of the park, where festival participants could roast marshmallows for s'mores or warm their hands during breaks from snow and ice sculpting. The fire was Town Manager David Smith's idea, Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said.

True to the Hotts' prediction, the area's most recent snow had long melted by Saturday's festival, but festival organizers didn't let that get in the way of the traditional snow-sculpting event. Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., donated two truckloads of snow and the Maryland State Highway Administration delivered it, Smith said.

Families and groups spent the afternoon sculpting the donated snow into snowmen, snow forts and even a giraffe.

Alyia Wheeler, 6, and Landon Wheeler, 2, turned their igloo into a tunnel with some help from their friend Brooklyn Kendall, 6.

"We used a lot of snow and we get to climb through it," Brooklyn said.

Nearby, Philip Clifford, 35, tried his hand at ice carving for the first time, roughing out a pair of hearts with a chisel. Clifford, an artist who moved to Hancock in September, said sculpture wasn't his specialty. He currently is working on a marquetry, or inlaid wood, piece, he said.

Mike Klingerman of Fulton County, Pa., provided guitar and accordion music for the festival, which he described as a "charming, small-town event." The beauty of the winter festival is that, like other Hancock traditions such as the annual variety show, the festival encourages participation in the arts, he said.

"It's not that someone comes and presents something," Klingerman said. "It's stuff people are involved in."

Sinclair Hamilton, chairman of the Hancock Arts Council, said the winter festival was designed to encourage creativity and introduce children to new concepts of art.

Using natural materials "is kind of a trend in art these days, with artists using rock and shale and twigs and all sorts of natural objects to make art," Hamilton said.

About 200 people attended Saturday's festival.

Arts council members already are thinking ahead to next year's festival, and Vickie Hott said she is working on some other ideas inspired by her trip to Vermont, including bringing in a dogsled team to give rides - on wheeled sleds, if necessary. This year, dogsled groups already were booked for the festival date, she said.

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