Winter Wonderland Weekend in Downtown Petoskey

With us now fully immersed in 2023, some of you may think we concluded the winter wonderland season back in December with Christmas and all, but we in Downtown Petoskey are carrying the wonderful sentiment on through the whole winter season! 

This month, we’ll be celebrating the snowy season with our Winter Wonderland Weekend event–and we hope you can join us for the festivities! From Friday, February 17, through Monday, February 20, Downtown Petoskey will feature ice carving demonstrations in Pennsylvania Park, shopping and restaurant specials, creative family-friendly activities, a scavenger hunt through the Downtown shops, and a Downtown Dollars shopping contest. The Downtown Petoskey Social District sets the stage for all winter fun.

We’re also partnering with the City of Petoskey for their Winter Carnival, held at the Winter Sports Park. So get ready for bumpjumping and the perma-favorite–the Cardboard Sled Race. 

Now, I’m well acquainted with what a cardboard sled race entails–brilliant engineering of a ramshackle cardboard vessel held together with most likely duct tape and a few prayers–however, I was not familiar with “bumpjumping.” 

Reportedly a beloved Petoskey pastime, the bump jumping contest incorporates a bumpjumper. What is a bumpjumper, you ask? Well, it’s essentially a ski with an elevated seat, much like a snow unicycle. Balance is tantamount, but instead of peddling a bump jumper, you lean from side to side and pray to the patron saint of snow that a bump doesn’t launch you off your bump jumper. I can only imagine the laughter and poofs of powder that accompany such a contest. 

Another highlight is we’re able to host ice carver Matt Cooper this President’s Day Weekend thanks to the sponsorship of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. 

Matt, a chef by trade, has been carving ice sculptures for 35 years, his first creation being a turkey for Thanksgiving at a Sheraton Hotel Sunday brunch. After that initial carving, Matt started doing ice carving competitions and festivals around the state and beyond.

Matt even competed at the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he made one of his favorite sculptures of all time – The Barnstormer. He and three other ice carvers created a barn scene with a farmer and wife ducking as a plane swoops down and hits a bail of hay, complete with a 20-foot-tall barn, chickens, and a fence.

“I enjoy the creative outlet that I get from carving ice and the reaction I get from the customers, spectators, and especially the kids,” said Matt. “This will be the second year for the Icon Ice team to be a part of the Petoskey Wonderful Winter Weekend.”

With the exciting Winter Wonderland promotional theme selected by the State of Michigan, we’re all looking forward to seeing what icy creations Matt exhibits in Pennsylvania Park this year!

And yes, the art of the ice sculpture did not originate here in Michigan (the first ice sculptures occurred in China during the 17th century), but almost every single winter carnival or festival in the state has an ice sculpture component, so Petoskey fits right in with its fellow Michigan towns and cities during this Winter Wonderland season. 

Be sure to stroll through Downtown Petoskey during President’s Day Weekend to catch some creative ice work, fun activities, and other great downtown offerings!

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