Find Foodie Fun during Fish Creek’s Winterfest Weekend

The annual Winterfest gathering is drawing near! Now in its 33rd year, Fish Creek’s longest-standing tradition – and Door County’s most quirky winter event – features live music, goofy games, the entertaining stumpf-fiddle contest, a spectacular fireworks display and some delicious foodie attractions, including the Smokin’ Hot Chili Cook-off and the All Things Chocolate fundraiser. And outside of the main event in downtown Fish Creek, there’s more food and wine-inspired fun to be had Feb. 1-2.

The Smokin’ Hot Chili Cook-off

Do you have what it takes to deliver the best chili around? Don’t miss entering your chili in Winterfest’s Smokin’ Hot Chili Cook-off on Feb. 1 during Winterfest. It’s been a part of the weekend’s events for the last 15 years.

Chili judging will start at 11 am, with celebrity judges from around the county sampling the entries and choosing the winners. They include television personality and broadcaster Rachel Manek from WLUK Channel 11, radio personality Mike Mesic from 106.9 The Lodge, chef and restaurateur Bruce Alexander from Alexander’s in Fish Creek, and others. Chili cook-off winners will be announced at 12 pm.

Judges table at the chili cook off in 2017.

Contestants will compete for overall first, second and third places, plus honorable-mention categories. Prizes will vary, with winners receiving a trophy and gift certificates from local businesses, handcrafted chili bowls and more.

After the winners are announced, attendees may taste all of the contestants’ chili with a bottomless bowl for a $5 donation. Proceeds will help to offset Winterfest expenses.

To enter, take a crockpot-sized amount of your favorite chili recipe to the main tent by 10:30 am. Judging will be based on tasting the straight-up chili, which means that no condiments will be added at the time of judging.

Still hungry? The main tent will be serving brats, hot dogs, chips, soda, water, beer, glogg, hard seltzer, nonalcoholic cider and hot chocolate. Visit to see the full Winterfest schedule and more details. 

All Things Chocolate

Enjoy a sweet treat (or two – or 10!), and support the nonprofit Gibraltar Historical Association and Alexander Noble House – two organizations that help to keep Fish Creek’s history alive – by visiting the seventh annual All Things Chocolate fundraiser. This year the event will have chocolate contributions from more than 40 sources, ensuring that there are plenty of delicious goodies to go around.

The traditional big sellers include Eunice Rutherford’s toffee, cherry bombs, assorted truffles and cherry-chocolate cake. New this year, look for triple-chocolate muffins, ultimate cheesecake brownies, ridiculously sultry (and gluten-free) brownies, and much more. Eat a piece of cake, gather a dish of delightful truffles or take a loaf of double-chocolate zucchini bread to go. Shop early for Valentine’s Day, or impress your friends with delectable treats at a Super Bowl party. Hot coffee and cocoa will also be served.

“The amount of people it takes to make this happen is truly amazing and makes this a true community event,” said event organizer Laurie Buske. “Last year we sold over 70 different types of chocolate items, from traditional chocolate-chip cookies, pies, cakes, pretzel rods, bars and dipped-in-chocolate items – the list goes on and on. It’s truly a mammoth of fundraisers for us.”

This year the funds raised will help to update the copier and scanner to preserve the highest quality of scanned historical images and copied documents. The funds will also help to purchase supplies to preserve donated items and support the Gibraltar Talks series.

Visit All Things Chocolate on Feb. 1, 10 am – 3 pm, in the Old Gibraltar Town Hall. Email [email protected] or call 920.868.2091 to find out more.

Winter Wine and Cherry Fest at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country

Outside of the main events in downtown Fish Creek, there’s more fun to be had at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country during the 16th annual Winter Wine and Cherry Fest on Feb. 1, 10 am – 5 pm. It will include complimentary wine, hard cider and product tasting – featuring the popular tart Montmorency cherry in celebration of National Cherry Month – plus an assortment of food and bakery items available for purchase.

Cherry Pit Spit Competition at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country. Photo by Kendra Sohm.

Guests can participate in wine-glass painting, enjoy live acoustic rock music by Ben Larsen (12-4 pm), and take a horse-drawn sleigh ride. The market is also a pickup and drop-off location for free trolley rides – sponsored by local businesses – into downtown Fish Creek.

Feeling competitive? The popular cherry-pit-spit competition will offer friendly competition for children and adults outdoors at 1:30 pm, with prizes for all. 

“Winter is a great time to unwind and relax in Door County and maybe spit a few cherry pits,” said Carrie Lautenbach-Viste, director of marketing at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Market, 9197 Hwy 42 in Fish Creek. Find out more by visiting or calling 866.946.3263.

The Fruit Loop Run

After all the fun on Saturday, it’s time to gear up for a fun run on Sunday! Put on your costumes, and lace up your shoes for the sixth annual Fish Creek Fruit Loop Run: an informal run or walk of 1/53 of a marathon (also known as a half mile) through scenic downtown Fish Creek. 

Participants are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes prior to the 10 am start. The race will begin at the Winterfest grounds at Clark Park and end with a post-race gathering inside the tent, complete with a breakfast of Fruit Loops and the heralded Olympic-style awards ceremony. As they say, “In a world of Cheerios, be a Fruit Loop.”

Call the Fish Creek Information Center at 920.868.2316 to learn more.

Photo by Len Villano.


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