By Danielle Taylor

Next Saturday, January 27, the town of Marienville in Forest County comes alive for its annual Winterfest celebration, which features a chili cook-off, pastry and cookie bake-off, raffles and auctions, games for adults and kids, snow sculptures, sky lanterns to heaven, and a truly unique snowmobile torchlight parade. The fun starts at 10 a.m. at the Marienville Area Civic Association building at 149 Pine Street, and the whole town invites you to come out and join in. Admission and parking is free.

Nestled in the Allegheny National Forest, Marienville has made a reputation for itself as the Snowmobile Capital of Pennsylvania, and hundreds of snowmobilers from all across the northeast and beyond travel to this small town each winter for its rider friendliness and its access to 360 miles of snowmobile trails in the ANF. Winterfest celebrates this part of the community’s culture and other aspects of Marienville’s identity that make this small town in the woods so unique.

Throughout the day, festival attendees can enjoy quarter card bingo, which will return 50 percent of its take to the winners, and a scavenger hunt, which results in a cash prize for the winner. If there’s enough snow, attendees can make snow sculptures from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for cash prizes and bragging rights.

Marienville Winterfest attendees release sky lanterns to heaven.

Marienville Winterfest attendees release sky lanterns to heaven.

At noon, the Marienville and Tionesta Lions Clubs host their annual chili cook-off, which has been a favorite at the festival for a decade. Festival attendees can pay $3 to sample all of the different chili entries and vote for their favorite. At 1 p.m., the winter scene coloring contest starts, which also offers cash prizes to the winners in each age class.

At 3 p.m., the bake-off kicks off, and the contest organizers invite attendees to bring and enter a pie, cake, or dozen cookies for the contest, which awards cash to the first-, second-, and third-place winners in each category. At 5 p.m., the snowflake cutting contest kicks off and also awards cash prizes to the winners.

In the evening, the Forest County ATV Club sponsors the sky lanterns to heaven at 6 p.m., where attendees can purchase a sky lantern for $5 and launch it in honor of loved ones or just for fun to fill up the sky with these illuminated orbs. Finally, at 7 p.m., the Marienville Trail Riders Snowmobile Club provides torches for the snowmobile torchlight parade, and anyone who brings their own snowmobile is invited to participate on this ride through the streets of Marienville. Raffle drawings also happen at 7 p.m., so there are opportunities to win great prizes throughout the entire day.

We hope to see you there!

Learn more and find other interesting places to visit in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to or calling (814) 849-5197.


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