By Keith Knepp
Temperatures in Kosciusko County and all of the region failed to make it out of the mid-teens Saturday, but that didn’t stop many brave souls from enjoying the activities of the annual Wawasee Winter Carnival, held at Oakwood Resort on the shores of Lake Wawasee.
Activities actually began Friday evening, with the always popular Wawasee Kiwanis Soup Supper. Dozens of entries were brought to the Syracuse Community Center for the tasting pleasure of a hungry crowd. Winners included the Syracuse Cafe, restaurant winner; Elise Gans, individual winner; Lakeland Youth Center, non-profit winner; Tanlines, business winner; and Man Cave Brewing, overall winner.
Following the supper, Chautauqua-Wawasee revived the Winter Carnival Dance, held at the Oakwood Event Center. The event was a popular part of the Winter Carnival in the latter part of the 20th century, as a part of the snowmobile drags on the lake. Chautauqua brought back the masquerade ball for the first time in many years, much to the delight of the attendees.
Saturday’s events kicked off with breakfast at the Syracuse Public Library, followed by a host of activities at Oakwood, including ice carving, a princess meet and greet, crafts, balloon animals and a hot cocoa bar. Those willing to brave the frigid outdoor temperatures were treated to s’mores stations, sleigh rides and a sled dog demonstration.
The heartiest of all souls stripped down to their bathing suits and took a dip into the frigid waters of Lake Wawasee for the second annual “Fire & Ice Polar Plunge,” a fundraising event benefitting the Turkey Creek Fire Department. Prizes were awarded to the best individual costume as well as the best team costume.
Some seeking a warmer form of entertainment participated in the beard competition on the event center stage. Proceeds from the contest benefited Chautauqua-Wawasee.
The day’s events concluded with a chili and grilled cheese buffet and live entertainment provided by Soul Shot, who had the crowd at The Pier and Back Porch jamming to a variety of popular rock and roll cover tunes.