Winterfest history

One afternoon in the late 1970’s at the Avalon Tavern on Gun Lake, a group of business owners met to discuss ideas for attracting more people to enjoy Gun Lake during the off-season. During this meeting, Bea Perrin, the owner of the Circle Inn, suggested the idea of a wintertime festival. She had attended a similar event in Houghton Lake and believed it could work for Gun Lake.

The first few Gun Lake Winterfest events were held in the late 1970s in front of Ross Resort on England Point. These early gatherings consisted of friends on their snowmobiles, an ice rink, and a giant cauldron of chili cooking over an open fire.

A year or two later, it moved to the ice in front of the Circle Inn and Fein’s convenience store. Around this time, snowmobile drag races and broomball were added, and local businesses began creating snow sculptures.

By the mid-1980s, Gun Lake Winterfest was thriving and finding its footing at Yankee Springs State Park. The Polar Bear Dip was introduced, and the event expanded to span Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with new events continually added over the years.

At some point, the State Park wanted to charge for admission, so the event was relocated to the County Park, and electricity was run to the event from Landman Sales. However, around this time, attendance began to dwindle, and Winterfest was temporarily discontinued for a few years.

It was later revitalized by the Gun Lake Business Association and evolved into the familiar event we know today, returning to Yankee Springs State Park.

Previous logo contest winners

Previous Gun Lake Idol winners

2023 Gun Lake Idol Winners

1st Place:

Ray Gifted (Wayland)

2nd Place:

Anna Martin (Battle Creek)

3rd Place:

Jim Cox (Plainwell)

4th Place:

Brian Schneider (Caledonia)

5th Place:

Onawa Terburg (Plainwell)

Through the years at Winterfest