WESTBROOK — Winterfest just got a lot longer.

The second annual festival’s events are scheduled over the next 6 1/2 weeks, wrapping up March 31. In-person events will be smaller this year because of the pandemic and most events will be held virtually. In its first year, Winterfest was a one-day event that drew over 600 festival goers downtown with a mix of family games, obstacle courses and entertainment.

“We aim to build a community between residents and the businesses, so a lot of what we are doing is geared towards that,” said Deb Shangraw of Discover Downtown Westbrook, which is sponsoring the festival with the Westbrook/Gorham Chamber of Commerce.

Last year’s pre-pandemic, one-day Winterfest drew over 600 people downtown, but this year the festival has gone hybrid and will take place over the course of six weeks. File photo

Starting this week, local businesses are offering a number of free online events and courses, like Drouin Dance Center’s free hip-hop class on Saturday. Links to the pre-recorded classes will be on DDW’s website and Facebook page.

The Fire Department will livestream a hands-only CPR demonstration and a river rescue that will also be made available for future viewing, Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte said. The Police Department will present an online K-9 demonstration. Dates will be announced soon.

Other virtual events include poetry readings, cocktail mixing classes (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), painting demonstrations, snow sculpture lessons, a SWAT team demonstration, cooking courses, workout classes and events aimed towards substance misuse prevention.

In the Bucket List Challenge, participants will visit area businesses and outdoor areas and take a photo of themselves as directed by the list provided in order to be entered into a drawing for prizes.

“It’s a great idea. It’ll bring people in,” said River’s Edge Deli owner Steve Lampron. “Anything you can do in Westbrook to help businesses is appreciated. I remember the last time with the bucket list, people came in and took pictures, laughing and having a good time. It’s a lot of fun.”

Brooke Reed, owner of Brook City Nutrition, which opened in mid-October, said she appreciates any opportunity to meet prospective customers. Despite opening “in the middle of a pandemic and going into winter,” she said business has been good and the community has been welcoming.

I think this event is great,” Reed said. ” People coming in and taking the picture is awesome and getting the name out there, especially new people.”

While the businesses appreciate the boost, Winterfest is also meant to combat the doldrums of February.

“People have just been isolated and locked down, so we want to get them out,” Shangraw said. “Even people who have to stay home, the online events make people feel connected, and we may even be able to reach people we couldn’t previous years, like the elderly who couldn’t make it out or people who have moved.”

Although Discover Downtown Westbrook hopes for an in-person Winterfest in the future, some virtual aspects of this year’s event may stay for the long run.

“This event is really about giving people something to do when there is nothing, so stretching out the event might be something we continue to do,” Shangraw said.

Specific dates and times for some events are still to be announced, but more information will be available on Discover Downtown Westbrook’s social media, as well as announcements for an upcoming St. Patrick’s Day event.

For more information, go to downtownwestbrook.com.

Comments are not available on this story.