Feeling like you have some Thanksgiving food to walk off? Head to the JoeTown WinterWalk Festival! We sat down with Raj Chaphalkar & Marshall Herron, co-chairs of the WinterWalk Festival to learn about preparations for the annual event.
The JoeTown WinterWalk Festival started as a tree-lighting ceremony in December 2012 by the St. Joe Action Group. A few years later, the Y2K Lions Club grew it into a bigger festival event involving local businesses. In 2022, JoeTown WinterWalk Festival formed a board and incorporated as a Minnesota 501c3 nonprofit organization. Chaphalkar and Herron noted that many volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours and dollars over the years to the tradition. The new board worked to honor that history while setting up a platform for future growth.
“Our Mission is to bring people together to celebrate the warmth of local hospitality, offering appealing activities, and entertainment to a wide range of participants. We want to create a warm and inviting atmosphere to enrich the fabric of the community. As a non-profit organization, we keep our values of Community, Local Artisans & Businesses, Inclusiveness, Tradition, Progress, and Volunteer & Sponsor Experience at the heart of what we do.”
The 2022 WinterWalk Festival will start on Friday, December 2nd from 4-8pm, and continue on Saturday, December 3rd from 11-3pm. Festival events include visits with Santa on the Bello Cucina patio, a Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Saint Joseph Parish lawn at 7pm Friday, music inside Krewe Restaurant, ornament-making for kids in Heritage Hall, and Avon Hills Folks School craft-making at Bad Habit Brewing. You can shop downtown for event goodies, too. You can find sambusas at Krewe Restaurant, hot chocolate at Jupiter Moon, a special Festival beer at Bad Habit, and more – all in downtown St. Joe.
The event is made possible each year through the generosity of donors and volunteers. “We have many wonderful sponsors at various levels and a great number of volunteers for all the festival events. Many local businesses have stepped forward to become our lead sponsors. Sponsors at certain levels get their own sponsored tree that gives them a presence downtown for the festival, no matter where their office is located. JoeTown WinterWalk Festival is all volunteer-led. We appreciate volunteers at all levels and strive to give them a rewarding and fun volunteer experience, too.”
When the event was created a decade ago, it was all out of love for the St. Joe community. “We feel St. Joe is an example of what makes Central Minnesota a great place to live. The warmth, charm, and dramatic growth of our town are inspiring. The streets are full and the town is bustling with energy! JoeTown WinterWalk Festival is our celebration of the entire community. No matter what your age or background, you’ll love the luminaries on Friday night and can find something to enjoy about the festival.”
Businesses or individuals can get involved by contacting email@example.com or 320- 348-0752. See you there!