The origins of Winterfest date back to the late 90’s, its roots buried within the Europa community during the GRD years. The camaraderie that Europafest established cannot be overstated, for without Winston Hamilton & Europafest there would have never been a Winterfest. Legend has it that Ron Shown and Merv Tierney met over a Second Front game and decided that more time was needed to play, and from those conversations Winterfest was born.
The first Winterfest began in 1998, with five or six players attending: (Rich, Merv, Lee, Troy, Jeff, and Greg). For the next three years the little gathering stayed immersed in Europa. As the years rolled by, new players came and went but the core circle of friends remained constant. Eventually the game that brought us together: Europa, took a back seat around 2005. This seems to have coincided with the death spiral of the system itself. It was around this time that our little grass-roots gathering in Sandusky started to get some traction and our numbers grew. We outgrew the Milan Sleep Inn and moved twice more in the ensuing years, ending up at our present and largest venue in Sandusky: The Best Western Inn & Suites.
By this time, Winterfest was hitting attendance numbers well into the twenties and the featured games played were GMT’s EFS and MMP’s OCS series. OCS has become a mainstay at Winterfest and in some regards I feel we are carrying the torch from Homercon. Today we have several veteran players who attended Homercon, even some from across the pond attending Winterfest regularly.
Our wargaming family has grown considerably reaching attendance numbers in the fifties. We operate what we call the ‘club’ by a group of volunteer and elected officers– using Robert’s Rules of Order to make decisions on behalf of the club – whose goals are to promote the wargaming hobby and the family feel Winterfest is known for. We like to consider ourselves simply a group of friends that gather together during the frigid days of February to wargame. Winterfest isn’t a convention in the formal sense; we operate on a small budget which is used to pay for the facilities each year. We pass along as much savings to attendees as possible so that it is affordable and that we can continue year in and year out.