WinterFest fun coming to Nashawannuck Pond

Horse wagon rides will  again be a highlight at Easthampton’s WinterFest. While the main event is set for Feb. 10 at  Nashawannuck Pond, other activities have been taking place since Jan. 1.

Horse wagon rides will again be a highlight at Easthampton’s WinterFest. While the main event is set for Feb. 10 at Nashawannuck Pond, other activities have been taking place since Jan. 1. gazette file photo


Staff Writer

Published: 01-22-2024 4:54 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A staple of Easthampton, Nashawannuck Pond provides yearlong recreational enjoyment for kayakers, sailors and ice skaters.

Onlookers can often be seen capturing images of the sunset reflecting over the pond’s ripples. And during the summertime, an American flag hangs over the pond as a symbol of patriotism and freedom, while in the winter a lighted Christmas tree welcomes the holiday season.

Behind the scenes is a team of volunteers comprising the Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee and a supporting nonprofit, which work to preserve and maintain the pond’s health and educate the public about the pond.

To accomplish that work, however, the group needs funding, and one of its major fundraisers is coming up.

The 11th annual WinterFest will be held on Feb. 10 with plenty of events, games, art, food and more for people of all ages.

Highlights of this year’s celebration include a new polar plunge held by the Easthampton Fire Department, the annual historical ice harvest on the pond, horse wagon rides, and other activities — with additional events scattered throughout January, for a total of over 35 activities and events.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Beth Tiffany, treasurer of the steering committee.

On any given year, WinterFest draws around 5,000 people, depending on the weather.

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“WinterFest is our primary fundraiser for the pond,” said Amy Marsters, president of the Friends of Nashawannuck Pond Inc., adding that the events bring in between $10,000 and $15,000 yearly to maintain the pond.

Those funds go toward routine tasks like invasive plant monitoring and treatment, herbicide treatment, and an ongoing project using barley straw to prevent the growth of harmful cyanobacteria blooms.

Annual maintenance costs, along with administrative and permitting costs, total around $10,000, said Tiffany.

Year to year, there are also sometimes larger projects that the committee needs funding for. Right now, the pond is being evaluated for its shoreline stabilization, which has to do with four retention walls made of wood and rocks that were installed in 2001 to prevent erosion.

So far, the committee has raised about $11,000 through sponsorships. While most WinterFest events are free to the public, donations are accepted.

The festivities kicked off on Jan. 1 with online events including the Nash Pond photo contest, snowflake making contest, pond trivia and Mt. Tom ice cream flavor contest.

On Feb. 2, New City Brewery will host a trivia night, and on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9, respectfully, Abandoned Building Brewery will host bingo and chili tasting in support of the pond.

As for the main event, Feb. 10, outdoor activities will include a historical ice harvest on the pond where participants will learn about the city’s role in the area’s ice industry; as well as a nature walk at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, horse wagon rides, a community fire by the pond, and the polar plunge.

And inside at Keystone Mill, 122 Pleasant St., a craft fair will feature about 35 vendors and there will be a dance demonstration, magician, puppeteer, martial arts demonstration, yo-yo show, live animal education show, and the Warrior Art Room open house.

The Easthampton Public Library, Valley Art Supplies and Easthampton Skate will also hold activities.

Volunteers are still needed, and those interested can sign up at

More information on this year’s WinterFest can be found at

“I love Easthampton and I feel like the pond is such an important highlight of the city,” said Marsters. “It’s really just an opportunity for people to get out and be on the pond. With a certain amount of maintenance and due diligence, we can maintain this beautiful piece of the city.”

Maddie Fabian can be reached at