I was a bit worried today, I'll admit it.  Winterfest in the Amana Colonies.  Falling temperatures.  Wind chills far below zero.  Would people come?  I once again under estimated the hearty people of Iowa, and specifically, the Amanas.  

Ryan Brainard

The people came, and in impressive numbers!  Some were dressed like me.  Multiple layers, thick winter coat, hat and gloves.  Others, brave the cold with only a sweatshirt and mittens.  Fools?  Or simply lovers of the winter weather?  It's a thin line folks, a thin line.

Ryan Brainard

They enjoyed activities like ice skating, the ham toss and a log sawing competition!  There was of course, the great hot chili from the firefighters and plenty of hot cider too!  After a while, you forgot the wind was blowing, and that your feet were numb.

Ryan Brainard

And who could forget the best beard competition!  Beards of all shapes, lengths and colors!  The winner of best overall beard, Ron Dietrich, grows his new every year.  He shaves it in June for his wedding anniversary, and then grows it back for winterfest.  Amazing.

Ryan Brainard

Winterfest 2014 was a blast!  I enjoyed the wine walk, all the beards, and the sense of community and pride you can only find in the Amanas.  Sure, Maifest and Octoberfest may be warmer, but Winterfest truly brings out the heart and soul of the Amanas.