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posted: 1/29/2014 2:23 PM

Celebrate winter at Woodstock Groundhog Days

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  • Crowds gather on the Square to hear Woodstock Willie's prognostication at last year's Groundhog Days festival.

       Crowds gather on the Square to hear Woodstock Willie's prognostication at last year's Groundhog Days festival.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2013

  • Animal handler Mark Szafarn of Chicago brings Woodstock Willie out from the stump to make a seasonal prognostication at a previous Groundhog Days festival.

       Animal handler Mark Szafarn of Chicago brings Woodstock Willie out from the stump to make a seasonal prognostication at a previous Groundhog Days festival.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2012

 
Daily Herald staff report

This weekend, visitors to Woodstock can celebrate winter -- and find out if we're in for another six weeks of it -- at the city's annual Groundhog Days festival.

The festival, which began Jan. 26 and continues through Sunday, Feb. 2, is based on the 1993 comedy "Groundhog Day," which was shot in Woodstock. Several free showings of the film are scheduled.

But the highlight of the weekend will be the prognostication on the square in downtown Woodstock.

"Hundreds will brave the weather and gather on the Woodstock Square to see Woodstock Willie emerge from his tree trunk home," according to the Groundhog Days website. "If he sees his shadow, it means there will be six more weeks of winter and if he doesn't see his shadow, it means we will have an early spring."

The prognostication is set for 7 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 2. A polka band will play in the bandstand on the square.

"This is our re-enactment of the Groundhog Day ceremony that as a weatherman, Bill Murray reported on; over and over again," according to the Groundhog Days website. "That scene from the movie was filmed right here on the Woodstock Square."

After the prognostication, there will be a Groundhog Day breakfast at the VFW Post 5040 on Throop Street for $15, followed by a showing of the "Groundhog Day" movie at the Woodstock Theater. A walking tour of sites from the film will be offered at 12:30 p.m.

A special guest this year will be Danny Rubin, who wrote the script for the movie "Groundhog Day." He will be making the rounds and participating in many of the weekend's events, including the dinner dance, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31 at the Moose Lodge, 406 Clay St.

Saturday's activities include Groundhog bowling, a showing of the film, storyteller Jim May spinning "Groundhog Tales," a chili cook-off, a bags tourney, a "Groundhog Day" movie symposium, and a Woodstock District 200 Education Foundation benefit.

For a complete schedule of events, visit www.woodstockgroundhog.org/.

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