Winter weather makes Schaumburg fest 'great' again

  • Not intimidated by temperatures near freezing and a touch of icy snow, Thomas Marchi, 6, and his father, Jason Marchi, of Schaumburg work their way on snowshoes through prairie grass at the Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg.

    Not intimidated by temperatures near freezing and a touch of icy snow, Thomas Marchi, 6, and his father, Jason Marchi, of Schaumburg work their way on snowshoes through prairie grass at the Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

  • Moving at a brisk pace along the trails in back of Schaumburg's Spring Valley Nature Center, these sled dogs from Windy City Mushers entertained the crowd at the Spring Valley Winter Fest.

    Moving at a brisk pace along the trails in back of Schaumburg's Spring Valley Nature Center, these sled dogs from Windy City Mushers entertained the crowd at the Spring Valley Winter Fest. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

  • The Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg, which runs from noon until 3 p.m. Sunday, features horse-drawn wagon rides.

    The Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg, which runs from noon until 3 p.m. Sunday, features horse-drawn wagon rides. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

  • Using an ink pad and animal track stamps, Nathaly Soto, 5, of Vernon Hills identifies different animal tracks at the Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg.

    Using an ink pad and animal track stamps, Nathaly Soto, 5, of Vernon Hills identifies different animal tracks at the Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

  • Trudging uphill through tall prairie grass while wearing snowshoes for the first time was "great," said Thomas Marchi, 6, of Schaumburg. But he and his father, Jason Marchi, also enjoyed some inside time with hot chocolate and cookies at the Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg.

    Trudging uphill through tall prairie grass while wearing snowshoes for the first time was "great," said Thomas Marchi, 6, of Schaumburg. But he and his father, Jason Marchi, also enjoyed some inside time with hot chocolate and cookies at the Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg. Burt Constable | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/15/2020 6:10 PM

The icy snow could sting your face at times Saturday afternoon, but in a winter marked by record high temperatures and frigid days of polar vortex, the Spring Valley Winter Fest in Schaumburg embraced the temperatures near freezing.

"At least we have some snow this year, which makes snowshoeing easier," said Sharon Ogorzalek, a longtime volunteer who manned an inside table teaching kids how to tell if tracks in the snow were left by a squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, mouse, deer or coyote.

 

"It's perfect weather," said Jason Marchi of Schaumburg as he and his son, Thomas, 6, slipped on snowshoes. "He's excited. He loves this stuff."

Working his way uphill, while making a path in the snow through prairie grass as tall as he was, Thomas did note, "The snow is killing me." But after the hike, when he was enjoying a hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookie at a table inside the Spring Valley Nature Center, the boy was all smiles.

"It was great," Thomas said. "Well, it was very hard so it wasn't too great, but it was great."

Trying something new and appreciating nature during winter is the goal of the festival, which also runs from noon until 3 p.m. Sunday.

"Our purpose is to get people come outside when a lot of people are staying in," said Dave Brooks manager of conservation services for the Schaumburg Park District. "Come and enjoy the beauty of winter."

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About a dozen sled dogs from the Windy City Mushers pulled wooden sleds across snowy trails. "There are days we go out where we'll have 25 or 30 dogs," said Rick Richter, a co-founder of the group, which runs the dogs every weekend along trails in Elgin, Hoffman Estates and throughout the suburbs. His dogs, Usher and Juneau, generally work in teams from four to eight to pull a sled.

Sponsored by the Spring Valley Nature Club, fest activities included horse-drawn wagon rides, marshmallow-roasting over a bonfire, and winter-themed crafts and games inside. Five-year-old Nathaly Soto used a microscope to display a dragonfly slide on a laptop at a table run by volunteer Carolyn White. Her older brother Diego, 8, tried to toss bags through a wooden snowman's open mouth, as parents Jose Soto and Hilda Esparza said they were glad they made the trip from their home in Vernon Hills.

Admission to the winter fest, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, is $3 per person or $12 per family, with children 3 and younger free. For more information, call (847) 985-2100 or visit parkfun.com.

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