CLIFTON PARK — Despite canceling and curtailing some of its outdoor activities, due to a lack of snow, the annual Clifton Park Winterfest still drew a robust crowd of participants Saturday.
Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett said he believes the variety of activities available at different venues during Clifton Park Winterfest is the key to its enduring success.
"We try to offer activities for everybody, so mixing the outdoor with the indoor events has always been very popular," Barrett said.
The warmer temperatures and rain this past week led to changes and cancellations among the lineup of outdoor events. For example, the planned horse-drawn sleigh rides at Riverview Orchards, were converted to horse-drawn wagon rides.
"We're getting into mid-February, everybody is getting ready for spring, but today is an opportunity to be outside and do some outdoor activities and then come inside and warm up with some soup and watch some incredible local talent," Barrett said.
Two of the popular indoor events were held at the Clifton Park Center, the "Clifton Park Idol" singing contest and the "Taste of Clifton Park" best soup contest.
Christian Blood, 15, a freshman at Christian Brothers Academy, was a participant in the Clifton Park Idol contest. Blood sang Bill Joel's "Piano Man" and played the piano and a harmonica.
"I like that song so much; it's a great song," Blood said. "So, I thought I'd try to sing it. It was a lot of fun."
"Before I went up there I really hadn't practiced with a microphone," Blood said. "And when I got up there, I was like, 'Oh wow, now I can hit the high notes.'"
Barrett said the winner of the age 6-12 category for the contest was Ashlynn Boyce and for the age 13-17 category it was Devynn Jones.
The soup contest, held inside the Hilton Garden Inn Ballroom, was also popular, featuring restaurants such as Angelo's Prime Bar & Grill, Brick Tavern & Grille, Peddlers Bar & Bistro, the Rusty Nail Grill & Tavern, Wheatfields Bistro and Wine Bar, among others.
One of the newcomers to the annual soup contest was Corelife Eatery, a gluten-free "fast casual" franchise which has been operating in Clifton Park since the summer of 2018. Pauline DiGiorgio, a marketing ambassador, for the company said events like the Taste of Clifton Park soup contest give company's like hers a chance to introduce new customers to their products.
"We are serving a cauliflower base tomato basil soup," DiGiorgio said.
Ashlee Derby, who works inside the Clifton Park Center mall, said for years she's wanted to participate in the soup contest, by tasting and submitting a ballot with her selections for best soup, but she was always too busy with other work during Winterfest.
Not so this Saturday.
"It was delicious. I've always heard about it, but never got over here, but this year I did," Derby said. "I voted for the lobster bisque soup from Rocco's to be the best."