January 18, 2010
DeRuyter holds first Winter Carnival
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Jim Perkins helps his wife, Jo, with her snowshoes Saturday behind DeRuyter Central School as the two get ready to head out across a field at the DeRuyter Winter Carnival.
DeRUYTER — The idea, as Nell Ziegler explained, was to create something fun to promote the community during the wintertime, when major events are held less often.
This prompted community leaders and residents in DeRuyter to collaborate in recent months to hold a winter carnival, said Ziegler, one of the event’s organizers.
Ziegler said they chose to name it the Tioughnioga Winter Carnival, after the nearby river, in order to place the focus on the surrounding area — not just one town.
“This creates a greater awareness for what the community has to offer,” she said.
The carnival began Thursday evening and continued through Sunday. It was held on the grounds of DeRuyter Central School.
Artworks created by students were put on display around the school and an arts and crafts fair showcasing local talent was stationed in one of the gymnasiums.
Ziegler said the school made an ideal location because of its prominence in the town, “located in the heart of the community.”
The carnival’s main draw, in keeping with the winter theme, was outside — with a series of snowball toss games organized by local Cub Scouts, an ice rink created in the softball field next to the school, and a snowman contest.
Dave Pilcher, the den leader for DeRuyter Cub Scout Pack 14, ran the snowball games, which were set up in three stations. One of the games was for distance, the other two measured accuracy, and the player would have points tallied on a scorecard, Pilcher explained.
Zack Best, 10, landed the highest score of 46 points in the snowball tosses on his first try — about 90 minutes into the competition.
“You’re coming close to my score,” Pilcher said when he tallied Best’s points. “That was tough for me to admit.”
Best had little to say of his achievement.
“My hands are cold!” he exclaimed.
Pilcher’s 11-year-old son Will said his favorite game was the distance throw.
“All you gotta do is throw it right past the line — it’s easy!” Will Pilcher said.
The weather Saturday proved ideal for the games because the temperatures provided good packing snow, Dave Pilcher said.
Pilcher was especially proud of the 4-inch thick ice rink that took two weeks to set up. “I think that was a real neat feature,” he said.
There were other events held Saturday, including a family fun run, which began at 10 a.m. Terry Ann Smith, who was in charge of the fun run, said 35 runners participated.
The fun run was simple, she explained. It spanned just under a mile and coursed around the school parking lot, toward Town Hall, along a part of Route 13, then back to the school.
Todd and Amy Curtis came with their three daughters especially for the fun run.
Todd Curtis said it was his 9-year-old daughter Zoey’s idea to participate. Zoey said she thought it would be a fun thing for her whole family to do.
Many traditional aspects of small-town are fading away, with businesses closing and talk of consolidation in nearby towns, which makes events like the winter carnival important, Todd Curtis said.
“So it’s good to have something to bring the community together,” he said.
Saturday events began around 9 a.m., but crowds came in closer to midmorning.
Pilcher said he was not surprised a lot of people were drawn to the winter carnival. He thought the Cub Scouts played a big role, mostly since adults work with their children and their families go to activities like these together.
“We’re a tight-knit community, really,” he said.
Ziegler said she hopes this winter carnival becomes a tradition in DeRuyter. She and other organizers said they are planning another one next year.
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