Winterfest proves to be successful once again

Aubrey Klumker, Managing Editor

Thanksgiving weekend was full of holiday cheer and enthusiasm as Winterfest continued for the 18th year. Vendors, volunteers and customers came together to celebrate the Christmas spirit and support the school.

Leadership advisor, Danielle O’Leary overlooks all the associated student body (ASB) and leadership students. An alumni of Peninsula, O’Leary is no stranger to the ways of Winterfest.

“I have been involved with Winterfest as an advisor for 4 years, 2010-present, and I was also heavily involved with it as a student at PHS 2001-2005,” O’Leary said.
With over 200 vendors and high expectations to keep, many tasks had to be delegated and managed. Mckenzi Bravo, the ASB vice president, worked with O’Leary and the leadership students to make sure everything was the best it could be.

“We had five committees in leadership preparing things from wreaths to volunteer organization to food court sales. A lot of work was done by Piper Wysake on the wonderful Winterfest posters and help from the class on distributing those throughout the community,” Bravo said. “Promotion was huge as well as creating shifts for all the much appreciated volunteers and hospitality rooms.”

The ASB and 33 leadership students began preparations in mid-October. Students made hundreds of thank-you cards for vendors and helped with set up and take down.

“The whole leadership class helped ‘oodles’ and there was help from the staff, of course, in organizing clubs and sports to help out with take down and set up. We split up the work pretty well,” Bravo said. “I was in charge of volunteer organization which was complicated to schedule out since the mass amounts of volunteers but we got it all done.”

All of the hard work put into Winterfest was not overlooked by the customers or the vendors. Preston Earl Tart and Grace Tart are Winterfest regulars who have been coming for years.

“We’ve been coming for 10 to 15 years,” Preston Earl Tart said.

“Probably 15 plus years,” Grace Tart said.

“Yeah, probably 15 plus years,” Preston Earl Tart said.

Not only have the Tarts been coming for more than 15 years, the Tarts do not plan to stop the tradition any time soon.

“We enjoy it very much and will be coming for many years to come,” Grace Tart said.

Vendors sell products varying from scarves to hats to dog accessories to ornaments to jewelry to paintings and many more.

“There’s really a good variety I think. We’ve visited probably 40 vendors today,” Preston Earl Tart said.

Greer Gates of ‘Jewels of Hope’ sold handmade jewelry not for advertisement or profit, but for cancer research.

“We make and sell jewelry for cancer research. There’s a lot of jewelry, but I have a lot of volunteers. I can’t do this all by myself. I have work parties and friends and family come and help me,” Gates said.

For Gates this was her first Winterfest experience and year as a vendor.

“We’ll probably come back next year. We applied to Tidesfest, but we were too late, but I think we might go just to see what it’s like, but we’re not selling there,” Gates said.

With so many vendors, clubs, and decorations to be set up, there was a great need for many helping hands.

“We had more volunteers than we even had room for in the schedule. I’d say a couple hundred kids signed up to help out,” said Bravo.

Having hundreds of students sign up made a good impression on the vendors and the customers.

“The students have been very, very helpful with everything and showing us around. They really look out for us,” Preston Earl Tart said.

Student volunteers worked hard to be available where there was help needed.

“They are constantly walking around and have been helpful,” Gates said.

This year, with the hard work of many, Winterfest reached a new record. It was so successful, that the overall profit exceeded previous years.

“This year we set a record with the amount of money we raised. Almost 3,000 people attended and shopped at the event. There were over 200 vendors, record amount of PHS clubs and activities participated, whether they had a table, decorated a wreath, volunteered to support the vendors, or set up and clean up,” O’Leary said.

Final numbers on profit are still being processed, but it is believed that Winterfest raised over $30,000 dollars going directly to clubs, ASB, sports and activities.

Winterfest holds many different meanings to the people in the Gig Harbor community; for some it highlights the school.

“Winterfest is a special event because it gives PHS any opportunity to share our school and everything that is so awesome about it with the community. The community is walking through our halls and seeing our students spend their Thanksgivings weekend volunteering,” O’Leary said.

For others, it highlights the holidays.

“Winterfest is the best way to start off the holiday season and spread holiday cheer,” Bravo said.

Every year it seems things could be improved or changed, but due to the results from this years Winterfest, only minimal things have been suggested. The time of Winterfest has been a tradition, but it can prove difficult.

“One thing that we struggle with every year is that the event is always Thanksgiving weekend. This is a fabulous weekend because people are in the shopping mode, but we struggle getting the amount of volunteers that we need each year because people are on break and with their families. Every year it gets better, but more volunteers would always be a good goal,” O’Leary said.

There were so many vendors this year, some were a bit crowded and wished for more air conditioning.

“A little less hot, I’m sweating,” Gates said.

For the Tarts, with their many years of experience at Winterfest, it was the absence of people directing parking and the limited available spots.

“Last year there were people helping with parking, but there weren’t any this year. We have a handicap tag and couldn’t find a parking spot so we had to park somewhere else. There wasn’t enough parking this year,” Preston Earl Tart said.

Grace Tart also hopes for more time because the weekend isn’t enough.

“Maybe open Friday afternoon because people are busy during the weekend and it’s not quite long enough,” Grace Tart said.

To make Winterfest an even bigger success, the word needs to be spread.

“Invite your families. The more people that attend, the more money we make for the school,” Bravo said.

After 18 years of wonderful Winterfest, the community is looking forward to future years and hope Winterfest will last a long time.

“Don’t quit,” Grace Tart said.