BUCKEYE LAKE – Benny the Bass keep a crowd of several hundred hardy Winterfest celebrants in suspense at dawn on January 28.
Just as the early morning fireworks show was starting, Benny gobbled up a minnow meaning that Buckeye Lake will have an early Spring.
It turns out that a little research gives an early spring at least a sporting chance. Winterfest co-chair Mike Fornataro said this year they asked the Cincinnati area fish hatchery for some snack options for Benny. Fornataro said they learned that Benny would never eat the food offered the first two years.
For the second year in a row, the early morning crowd was the largest in the last two years at the North Shore boat ramp. The remaining parking spaces filled quickly. After a near 10-minute fireworks show, the festive crowd headed out to warm up and get some breakfast. The breakfast crowds kicked off a busy weekend for participating bars and restaurants.
The Buckeye Lake Region Chamber of Commerce’s Winterfest grows each year and provides an important economic boost to local businesses struggling to cope with the loss of now two boating seasons.
Crowds again packed the Buckeye Lake Winery for the Polar Plunge Sunday afternoon. The lake was ice free this year, but many jumpers seemed surprised at how cold the water was.
The Millersport Fire Department conducted the Plunge with two firefighters in wet suits assisting jumpers in the water. No one needed emergency assistance but some appreciated a boost out of the frigid water.