The first annual Winterlight Festival aims to break up cold months, build community |

The first annual Winterlight Festival aims to break up cold months, build community

Fred Haberlein and Jack Green stand near Haberlein's custom corn hole boards on the Glenwood Springs Library plaza
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

Who: Glenwood Springs Lions Club

What: Winterlight Festival

When: 3-8 p.m. on Saturday (Corn hole tournament from 3 to 6 p.m., chili cook-off from 4 to 6 p.m., all age community dance with music from The Confluents from 5 to 8 p.m.)

Where: Glenwood Springs Library (corn hole tournament and dance), Glenwood Methodist Church (chili cook-off)

How Much: Corn hole tournament: $10 per person; chili cook-off: $5 per bowl and $1 per vote; dance: donations accepted. All proceeds go to the Lions Club vision efforts

Jack Green, president of the Glenwood Springs Lions Club, is a big ideas kind of guy. And he’s got big ideas about the ways Glenwood can build up its sense of community.

Green is organizing the first annual Winterlight Festival, a community gathering with games, food and music meant to break up the cold months and raise locals’ spirits. All the proceeds from Winterlight will go to various Lions Club vision projects.

“The goal is just to get people out and have fun in the middle of winter,” Green said. “I’m a community gatherer by nature. It’s in my bones. And I haven’t done it for quite some time.”

Green has lived in the valley for almost four decades, and in that time, he’s taught social studies at Glenwood Springs High School and organized events for the community. He took a break from that, but after joining the Lions Club a year and a half ago and being elected president in June, the spark came back.

“When I got in there I said, ‘You know, we need a big bump,’” he said. “‘We need something big and grandiose and something over the top.’”

The idea for the Winterlight Festival came about two months ago with a conversation between Green and Sue Schnitzer, branch manager at the Glenwood Springs Library. Green and Schnitzer worked together on a “Grapes of Wrath”-themed event in Carbondale and talked about organizing something in Glenwood.

“We have this community room, we have this patio; we ought to use it for some kind of event,” Green said.

Winterlight will start at 3 p.m. on Saturday on the Glenwood Springs Library plaza with a corn hole tournament, which costs $10 per person to enter. Five teams will be able to move through brackets, and the winner will receive a $200 gift certificate from Grand Optic. Second and third place will win cash prizes.

“We’re all about eye sight and vision,” said Green of the Lions Club. The group works on a variety of vision projects for the community, including screening children and working to get glasses on all the kids who need them by third grade. “Eighty percent of your knowledge comes through vision. By third grade, you can have a pretty bad attitude about school if you can’t see.”

One thing that makes this tournament special, aside from the good cause the proceeds will go toward, is the corn hole boards themselves, which have been painted by muralist Fred Haberlein. Haberlein, also known as Thunder Heart, has done more painted murals than any other U.S. artist, with 133 murals around the West. His work can be found on the outside of buildings downtown as well as City Hall and the Community Center.

Haberlein has painted lions on the boards, each one a little different. The boards will be for sale for $300, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Lions Club.

“Jack and I are old buddies, and anything I can do to help Jack out, I do,” Haberlein said. “And the Lions Club does such good work with vision for kids.”

If a corn hole tournament isn’t your thing, maybe food is. From 4 to 6 p.m. at the Glenwood Methodist Church, patrons can vote in a locals chili cook-off. Chili costs $5 a bowl, and it costs $1 to vote for the best chili out of 10 that will be served.

Finally, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the library’s community room and on the plaza, local band the Confluents will play for an all-ages community dance where donations are accepted.

“It’s a big festival,” Green said. “It’s something Glenwood doesn’t normally do. It hasn’t happened for a long time. We’ve lost this sense of dancing and music and all that.”

Green said he wants Glenwood Springs to be known as a fun city in the valley for locals, and he hopes Winterlight will help build that reputation.

“It’s always this Highway 82 mentality here,” he said. “This is kind of a step off into that changed dynamic, the way I see it. It’s five hours of, ‘This is what it could be.’ But you’ve got to come. If you don’t come, then the naysayers are right.”

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