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Ponca State Park's WINTERFEST Dec. 29!

Enjoy A Full Day of FUN, FRIENDS, and FAMILY at the Park

Spend a full day of Winter Fun with over a Wide Variety of FREE Activities for All Members of the Family. Grab your Friends and Compete as a Team in Some of Our Challenging Events and Courses. Get out and Enjoy the Season at Ponca State Park. This first time event is set to be a great annual event. So grab the kids, get on a team and don't forget your hat and mittens!



Student “Winter Activity” Art Display--Resource and Education Center - Students from Ponca K-3 will have art on display depicting a favorite “Winter Activity.” Winners from each grade will receive recognition and a saucer sled.

Cross Country Ski Trail and Sledding Hill—dependent on weather conditions

10:00am—5:00pm     Refreshments —Resource & Education Center, $2/person
Holiday treats including hot chocolate, coffee, wassail and cookies


Crafts & Activities—Resource & Education Center,
Gingerbread man and cookie decorating, wreath making, popcorn strings & pinecone bird feeders, card decorating, ornamental family photographs, etc.

  • Gingerbread & Cookie Decoration
  • Add to the smell and taste of the season with decorated treats

  • Wreath Making
  • Create a wreath for use as a gift or holiday decor

  • Popcorn Strings & Pine Cone Bird Feeders
  • Give a holiday gift to our feathered friends

  • Card Decorating
  • Design and send a greeting to military personnel or elderly community member

  • Ornamental Family Photographs
  • A group or individual photo to be placed inside a keepsake ornament

  • Winter Craft Assortment
  • A variety of winter crafts for all ages

11:30am—1:00pm Lunch—Resource & Education center, Sandbar Room, $3/person Hotdogs, chips, cookies and drink 
HIGH NOON—1:00pm 

Fruitcake Fling—Near Center, Whitetail Mini Lodge

We finally found a good use for a holiday fruit cake! Each person will throw a fruitcake from a designated area, limited to first 50 participants.  Adult and youth contest winners will receive a commemorative t-shirt. Our fruitcakes will be filled with seeds & nutrients beneficial to wildlife so nothing will go to waste!

1:00pm—2:00pm Kindling Hunt for Kids—Resource & Education Center perimeter.
Especially for kids, families will search for decorated kindling bundles to use to start Yule Log bonfire. 


Yule Log Quest—West Shelter, Teams of 3-5 people register prior to event at Resource and Education Center

The “Yule Log Quest” event sign-up will be ongoing until the day of the event, or until 20 teams have been registered.  Each team size is limited to 3-5 people. Teams are encouraged to dress up in holiday style.  “Best Dressed” prizes awarded for categories “Best Vintage Wear,” “Best Stocking Cap” and “Best Dressed Team Overall.”  Interested participants can register by calling the Park Office at (402) 755-2284.

Prior to the start of event, teams will meet at the West Shelter will to receive an introduction and orientation, including directions, rules and description of challenges.  Teams then will be directed to begin challenges.  Once a team finishes a challenge, they will receive an ornament that they are required to put onto a designated tree before going onto the next challenge. If there is snow, paths will be created between the challenge stations and the tree.  If there is no snow, signs will be used to mark the paths. 

The team strategy will be to complete the challenges in a timely manner. Challenges include:

  • Candy Kiss Game
    • Three team members will race relay-style to grab a candy kiss from a jar and unwrap it with mittens on.
  • Holiday Obstacle Course
    • Three team members will complete a challenging holiday obstacle course.
  • Dress a Snowman 
    • If snow, three team members will dress an actual snowman (hat, scarf, pipe, etc.)
    •  If no snow, two team members will dress another participant as a snowman.
  • Wreath Toss
    • Three team members will throw three wreaths onto a pole.
  • Build a Woodpile
    • As a team, participants will empty wood from container and create an organized stack of wood.  Once stacked and approved, team will place wood back into the container.

Once all challenges have been completed with all 5 ornaments in place on the tree, they will receive a sealed envelope containing a series of clues leading to the yule log.   Once the Yule Log is located, a horse will pull it to a central location to be cut.  Following this, all participants will be directed to the Resource and Education Center (near front entrance) for a Yule Log bonfire (burning of Yule Log and kindling) and prizes.
 The winning team and “best dressed” competition will receive special recognition and be awarded prizes.  Holiday hayrack rides and entertainment will follow.  Soup supper follows for only $6 / person.

3:30pm—4:30pm  Yule Log Bonfire—Near Resource and Education Center
The Yule Log and kindling bonfire with Yule Log Quest team awards presentation


Cardinal Mini-Lodge Open House - HyVee Wine & Cheese Tasting
4:30pm—7:00pm Soup Supper –Resource and Education Center,
Riverbluff Room
Homemade chili, chicken noodle soup & oyster stew, sandwiches and more

Lighted Holiday Hayrack Rides—Resource & Education Center-Enjoy a festive ride from the Center to Tri-State Overlook on a decorated, lighted hayrack.  Blankets provided.
5:30pm—6:30pm  Evening Holiday Entertainment—Resource and Education Center, Riverbluff Room
Gather around to hear Nebraska cowboy poet, R.P. Smith as he presents “
Holidays on the Ranch
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Nebraska Game and Parks Commission - 2200 N. 33rd St. Lincoln, NE 68503 - 402-471-0641

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