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Perfect weather boosts annual festival at Volo Bog

WinterFest Volo Bog included snow-sculpting competition. Here Tess Michehl 5 Crystal Lake is human half mermaid sculpted by her family

WinterFest at Volo Bog included a snow-sculpting competition. Here, Tess Michehl, 5, of Crystal Lake, is the human half of a mermaid sculpted by her family that included (from left) her uncle

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The state nature preserve is located just west of Route 12 on Brandenberg Road in Ingleside. For info, see website or call (815) 344-1294.

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Updated: March 15, 2014 3:47AM

WinterFest, a 22-year staple of the Volo Bog State Natural Area in Ingleside, was made to order for outdoor fun Sunday.

There was snow, granular and slushy as it was, but there was also tolerable good weather, considering last week’s polar vortex. Tykes who arrived bundled in snowsuits and galoshes were giggling, not shivering. By early afternoon, the weather was sunny and nearly 40 degrees.

WinterFest, according to Volo Bog naturalist Stacy Iwanicki, does not depend on its namesake season.

“We fired winter long ago,” Iwanicki joked. “We don’t rely on winter. That’s why we have so many indoor activities − music, stories, crafts. But when she shows, we embrace her.”

There was still enough winter for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and a snow-sculpting contest.

Adults helped kids sculpt with hands and shovels, and decorate with spray bottles filled with colored water, a rainbow, a likeness of Sponge Bob, a mermaid and an igloo. The latter was home to a petite snowman who wore the stocking cap of its creator.

Ann Davis of Round Lake helped her two children, Lee, 3, and Tessa, 6, build snow people along the walk that leads to the bog’s Visitor Center.

“We love coming here during warm weather, so any opportunity to come out here is great,” Davis said. “We love the Volo Bog.”

The nearly 1,200-acre bog and natural area is a state nature preserve owned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The only quaking mat bog in Illinois, it is home to more than 20 endangered species of plants. It is accessible by more than a half-mile of boardwalk.

Tours of the bog, its plants emerging from the melting snow, were also part of the WinterFest.

“It’s awesome,” said Sarah Michehl, who brought her two children, Tess, 5, and Zachary, 3, to the event. “We love the free play opportunities for kids outside in winter. To be able to do it with the whole family is what I like.”

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