Winterfest Redding - A Three-Month-Long Festival
By Jon Lewis
The Coolest Time of YearDecember 2014
By Jon Lewis
A lot of people are in the know when it comes to art and culture in Redding, whether it’s holiday traditions like “A Cascade Christmas” and Shasta High’s Madrigal Dinner or where to grab a bite to eat and catch some live music.
Most of those people live, work or shop in Redding.
The Shasta County Arts Council, with help from a half-dozen partners, wants to spread the word of Redding’s cultural offerings to those who don’t necessarily live, work or shop in Redding: In other words, the visitors who make the North State’s tourism industry hum.
Stepping in to spotlight the city's finer things is WinterFest, a three-month- long festival that helps tourists and locals alike learn about the latest in live music, theater, exhibits, gallery shows and special events taking place in December, January and February.
Not coincidentally, those are the three months when North State visitor numbers are at their lowest. “We need to give people a reason to come and visit,” says Debra Lucero, the Shasta County Arts Council’s executive director. “They’ve seen the Sundial Bridge, but did they know Redding has incredible theater?”
The heart of the campaign is WinterFestRedding.org, an interactive Web site that lists events, festivals and other cultural amenities in Shasta, Tehama, Trinity, Siskiyou and Butte counties. The site, which continues to grow as more groups, businesses and artists add information, “catalogs,
during a certain time frame, how much interesting stuff is going on,” Lucero says.
“This is not just for guests, either. People in the area will understand how rich and diverse Redding’s art and culture really is,” Lucero says. WinterFest is patterned after Chico’s successful ArtoberFest, an annual celebration of studio tours, Octoberfest festivities and other fall events in and around Butte County. When it began in 2005, Artoberfest featured 85 events; by 2008, it had almost doubled to 150.
Lucero expects WinterFest to register similar growth in the coming years as arts organizations learn of its marketing reach. “What we found by doing it in Chico, by the third year, people started planning and designing events for Artoberfest because they knew there would be a big push. It was especially helpful to theater groups to be able to work a year in advance.”
WinterFest, however, will feature Mt. Shasta as the backdrop and the symbolic reason for making a wintertime visit. The overriding message is “we’re more than recreation,” Lucero says. “VisitRedding.com is doing a remarkable job of marketing Redding’s outdoor attractions—we’re just adding arts and culture to the mix.”
Laurie Baker, CEO of the Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau, says WinterFest has her agency’s full support and cooperation. “We’re limited with people and resources, so we have to spend our time selling the brand promise of Redding, which is outdoor adventure. That has always been our focus.
“But once they’re done paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking or whatever they came to do, we want them to get out and experience Redding’s culture. It rounds out what Redding has to offer,” Baker says.
When a day spent hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park or walking on the Sacramento River Trail is capped off with a fine-arts opportunity, Baker says it adds to the area’s level of customer service. “It’s that extra good feeling when people leave. They’ll think, ‘Wow, such a wonderful
“That’s why the Arts Council is so important and they do it so well. We thought it was a great partnership.”