‘It’s really beautiful.’ Newton’s First WinterFEST Brings Music, Shopping, Ice Sculptures and Cheer

Gavris said the event was important for bringing the community together during the pandemic.

“It definitely takes a village, as they say in Newton, to put on the event,” Gavris said. “But we are very grateful for the partnerships we have developed.”

WinterFEST started with the soup social at the Hyde Center Playground in the Newton Highlands on Saturday February 12. The outdoor event also featured ice cream and live music by The Porch Rockers, a group of Newton residents, and Newton North High School’s Melocotones, an acapella group.

Seven local vendors and their customers braved the snowy weather to participate in a series of pop-up markets that began during the pandemic, said Christopher Osborn, owner of Better Life Food. Thalia Lauzon

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller was on hand alongside Newton City Council members who served soup to customers lying on the Lincoln Street sidewalk.

“You can see how hungry people are to be together enjoying the soup and the music,” Fuller said. “What you see is joy and happiness, music and dancing.”

WinterFEST attracted more than 20 community sponsors, including the Village Bank.

“It’s our home base,” said Susan Paley, vice president of community relations for the Village Bank. “We are very committed to this community, and we try to make sure that we financially support a lot of fabulous events, not just events, but ways that will build the community and make us stronger together.”

On Sunday, Feb. 13, the second day of WinterFEST opened in Cold Spring Park for a 1.5-mile educational winter walk with Newton curators about plants and animals in increasingly cold and snowy weather, according to Newton Community Pride WinterFEST webpage.

“I think it’s beautiful that it’s snowing for WinterFEST,” said Judy Shoobe, independent consultant for Scout&Cellar, Clean-Crafted Wine. “It’s fun to talk to people” and schedule tastings, she says.

WinterFEST featured three winter-inspired pre-made ice sculptures by Images in Ice on February 13.Thalia Lauzon

Shoobe set up a pop-up booth alongside other local businesses, like Better Life Food, at WinterFEST’s final destination in Newton Centre, the Winter Pop Market. The third event featured local produce, costumed characters and giant puppets, games, as well as performances by improv dance group Winter Wish Trio and Boston College’s The Acoustics, an a capella group.

Better Life Food owner Christopher Osborn said their restaurant business’ shift to pop-up markets during the pandemic has helped keep their local business alive.

“I think one thing that’s beautiful and coming out of the whole pandemic is that people are really thinking local, and they really want to support local,” Osborn said. “It’s really beautiful.”

Osborn had two tents — savory and sweet — and partnered with All Over Newton’s LoveFEST, a one-stop shop for ordering local Valentine’s Day gifts online for delivery or pick-up at WinterFEST.

Lauren Berman, owner of All Over Newton, said she strives to help local businesses with their marketing and exposure through “meaningful events that work for small businesses in Newton.”

WinterFEST and the Winter Pop Market stalls closed on February 13.

“We think a really healthy, outdoors, socially distanced and safe environment, enjoying the winter weather and enjoying the entertainment was really something we wanted to provide to the community this year,” Gavris said.

Thalia Lauzon and Charles Moore can be reached at [email protected]

Gloria Gavris, president of Newton Community Pride, leads the set-up of the Winter Pop Market.Thalia Lauzon
Christopher Osborn, owner of Better Life Food, introduces the “savory” table full of frozen soups, empanadas and treats.Thalia Lauzon
Chef Rory Forde (left) keeps warm with a customer during the constant midday snowfall.Thalia Lauzon

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