WOODSTOCK – Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, traditionally tells the eager masses whether or not winter is on the run.
It all has to do with a groundhog leaving its burrow and either seeing its shadow or not. This is one of those cases where you don’t want any sun on a cold winter day (if you’re a believer in the legend, anyway). If the furry critter sees its shadow, it’s 6 more weeks of winter ahead.
But whether you’re a believer or not, there’s still fun to be had in Woodstock, where the city has its own celebration of the day, and the movie that shares its name. Groundhog Days runs Jan. 28 through Feb. 6. The event’s orgins stretch back to 1993, with the releease of the cult-favorite film, 1993’s “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray. Part of the movie was filmed here. Today, the city commemorates its starring roll with a festival around Feb. 2.
The fun starts at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 for the Awakening of the Groundhog at the Woodstock Opera house, 121 W. Van Buren. Woodstock Willie appears on the balcony and greets the public. He’ll pose for photos, and later, everyone can go to the Stage Left Cafe, 126 E. Van Buren, for hot chocolate and movie trivia.
“Groundhog Day” will be shown at 10 a.m. Jan. 30 and 31 in the Woodstock Theatre, 209 Main St.
“Every year we look forward to screening ‘Groundhog Day’ at the Woodstock,” Chris Johnson, CEO of Classic Cinemas, said. “It’s very special to see the community come together annually to celebrate such a unique town like Woodstock.”
If something looks familiar at the theater, it’s because it appeared in the film, playing the role of the Alpine Theatre.
Jim May, a storyteller, will give his “Groundhog Tales” at 10 a.m. Jan. 30 at Home State Bank, 124 Johnson St. Other events this day include a chili cook-off, Woodstock Rotary Bag Tournament, a
concert, a walking tour of film sites and a symposium.
A pancake breakfast will be served from 8 a.m to noon Jan. 31 at the Woodstock Moose Lodge, 406 Clay St. The bachelor auction and dance in the movie were filmed here. The cost is $6 for adults, $3 for children 6-10, and free for kids 5 and younger.
Other Sunday happenings are Woodstock Wilie’s Family Funday with games for kids and the walking tour.
The schedule is quieter on Feb. 1, with one event, “The Making of ‘Groundhog Day’” at the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd St., from 5 to 8 p.m., and featuring pictures from the filming of the movie.
The big event is at 7:07 a.m. Feb. 2 in the Woodstock Square. Woodstock Willie will leave his home in a tree trunk and will – or maybe he won’t – see his shadow. But he won’t doze off; Polka band music will keep him awake.
Those who don’t want to let go of the groundhog theme, can attend the Groundhog Mardi Gras Feb. 6 in Harvard. The evening features live and silent auctions, dinner, a reverse raffle and music. Then that’s it – until next winter.
IF YOU GO ...
What: Groundhog Days
When: Jan. 28 through Feb. 6
Free: Awakening of the Groundhog, "Groundhog Day" movie, "Groundhog Tales," symposium, walking tour, Making of Groundhog Day and Feb. 2 prognostication
Costs: Chili cook-off (donations), Woodstock Rotary Bag Tournament ($30-40 per team), concert ($25), Woodstock Willie's Family Fun Day (four tickets for $1) and pancake breakfast
Information: woodstockgroundhog.org or 815-334-2620; see website for more events
Final event for Groundhog Days
What: Groundhog Mardi Gras
When: 5:30 to 11 p.m. Feb. 6
Where: Starline Factory, 306 Front St., Harvard
Tickets: $60, includes dinner; purchase at d200edfoundation.org/ or call 815-337-5406 for information.