January 25, 2021

Everyone knows how to do summer here. That’s easy. What’s not to love? Embracing January, however —  that takes some grit. It takes some local knowledge regarding how to survive, and better yet, how to thrive, when deep winter sets in.

Whether it was lining up gear the night before school for a snowy recess, digging through the family skate collection for the right size when the ice was finally solid, or piling into the car on a snow day to hit the school hill, seizing winter was simply second nature while growing up in Elkhart Lake. 

Of course, not everyone holds this affection for Wisconsin winter. There are those who will curse the season all through April, until the chance of flurries starts to taper. Wintertime can be brutal, especially with the current state of the world where people are trying to stay healthy and safe.

Lucky for us, our Elkhart Lake Chamber of Commerce has an entire festival to help us through. For as long as I can remember, Schnee Days has been a twinkling light amid January dreariness. It is a celebration of those magical white crystals falling from the sky, and an opportunity to play in them.

While Schnee Days has always featured outdoor activities, this year the opportunity to have some fun in the snow feels even more exciting. My heartstrings are pulled by hometown nostalgia to see the longstanding traditions of the ice cube hunt and the chili cookoff on the schedule. Even though daily life currently feels different, these little joyful moments bring us comfort we can count on.

Newer activities over the years have sprung up, too, including winter disc golf and Snowga (snow yoga). I’m planning to kick the weekend off with a new tradition at the Friday evening Moonlit Snowshoe Stroll at Quit Qui Oc, and then hitting the pavement Saturday morning at the SchneeLauf. Take it from a local — the 5k is more fun when in costume. Costume or not, walk or run, 2k or 5k, there’s a spot for everyone!

We will see which of the many snowy shenanigans call our names on Saturday afternoon. There are multiple locations for sledding, along with places to enjoy ice skating and snowshoeing. Sunday will be all about the comfort food with takeout from the Chamber Chili Cook-Off held at Siebkens Resort.

Now that the Schnee Days 2021 lineup is ready, it’s time to plan your multi-sport weekend and get ready to gear up. In the meantime, cross your fingers and toes, and maybe consider wearing your pajamas inside out a time or two before the big weekend. It’s an old ritual that helps call upon the snow gods for heaps of schnee.

Please see the full lineup of Schnee Days 2021 activities along with Covid-19 protocol here:  https://www.elkhartlakechamber.com/schnee-days.

Kate Vollrath

Kate Vollrath was born and raised in Elkhart Lake. After several years of working and adventuring in Anchorage, Alaska and a year studying in Italy, she has returned to her favorite freshwater shoreline. Wisconsin will always be home. The incredible local culture, extraordinary community, and summer Sundays on the water are what keep her rooted and returning no matter where life takes her.

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