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Identity & Community

Ohiopyle Cancels Winterfest Due To Lack Of Snow

High temperatures and lack of snow extended fair-weather biking and hiking season along the Great Allegheny Passage, which runs along the Youghiogheny River through Ohiopyle State Park.

Ohiopyle State Park traditionally holds Winterfest on the first Saturday of February. Park Environmental Education Specialist Barbara Wallace called it their big event to try and get visitors out to enjoy winter’s offerings.

“Normally we have sledding, and snowshoe demonstrations, and cross-country ski demonstration, sleigh rides, human sled dog races and all sorts of different varieties of snow fun,” Wallace said.

But this year there isn't any snow, so the festival is canceled. Even though January’s big winter storm dumped about three feet of snow on the region, Wallace said rain and warm days have melted the snowpack.

"We had 60 degrees and sunny on Sunday, and any place that anyone had walked or sled ridden melted it away," Wallace said. "I went up and the sled-riding hill is just a field of grass.”

While they’ve tried to hold Winterfest without snow in the past, Wallace said the low turnout isn't worth the combined effort of organizers, vendors and volunteers.

“We just didn’t have good success," she said. "It takes a lot of work to put on a large festival."

The event, which takes place at the Sugarloaf sledding area between Ohiopyle and Confluence, typically draws around 2,000 visitors. The park is hosting a Volunteer Trail Day on Saturday instead. Workers will clear the park's paths of downed trees and other obstacles.