It was almost like a scene straight out of a C.S. Lewis novel. Tables for chess and checkers were made out of ice, as were the etched slabs and pucks used for shuffleboard. Giant blocks served as stools for shivering card players. But unlike the White Witch’s castle in the classic children’s novel, the inhabitants of Frost Fest’s tent couldn’t have been less similar to stone statues.
I arrived on the scene early, seeing as how the Cold Butt Euchre tournament began a mere 30 minutes after the festival opened on a closed-off Washington Square. Immediately I spotted a few people I recognized – as usually happens at these types of events in Lansing – and I took in my surroundings with a glass of Plaid Penguin, specially brewed by Michigan Brewing Company for the event. Rich, sweet, a bit nutty and a lot potent, the specialty ale was just as good as I remembered from last year. With a stage on the west side, a bar lining the south side, merchandise and registration on the north, and the frozen games in the open end on the east, the place was primed for partying.
Half-way through my first game of euchre, I realized the lunacy of sitting on a block of ice in 20-something-degree weather while sipping a cold beer. I solved the situation by switching to the hot hard cider being poured by the awesome volunteers. Though it warmed me up for the second round, my cards went cold (as did my partner’s) and we were booted from the tournament. No defense of the Cold Butt Euchre champions this year.
But no matter.
By this time, the party was in full swing. The tent was packed, the music was flowing and everyone was having a great time. The bar had an outstanding selection of beer, wine and – as mentioned – hot alcoholic beverages. There was even some fine pulled pork to help warm the stomachs of those brave enough to venture out in the cold.
It was such a good time that I heard James Van Der Beek even made an appearance. Oh no, wait. That was just some random girl mistaking me for The Beek.
The event would have been a hit with the games, booze, food and some tunes alone, but it was taken to another level when Company of Thieves took the stage. The quad from Chicago certainly knows how to read a crowd and rock an event. Time flew by as my friends and I – and everyone else I saw for that matter – had an amazing time in the streets of downtown Lansing.
That was perhaps the most amazing part about the event. Despite the frigid temperatures, it looked like every single person in attendance was having the time of their lives. I didn’t see so much as one frown from one unhappy customer nor did I hear a single complaint. I’m sure there were a few – there always are with so much going on – but whatever they were, they were drowned out by the copious amounts of people having a good time.
I suppose it goes to show that summer doesn’t have a monopoly on awesome outdoor events. And that whether you’re in Old Town, REO Town or downtown, Lansing knows how to throw one hell (frozen over) of a party.