Organizers set up the rinks for the pond hockey tournament at Hot ChocolateFest last weekend. (Photo by Jennifer Eisenbart)

By Jennifer Eisenbart


With winter weather coming in this week and the ice at Echo Park all ready to go, so is the first-ever Hot ChocolateFest.

Running this Friday through Sunday, the event will feature pond hockey, hot chocolate and chili contests, broomball, campfire s’mores and even a pancake breakfast.

“A lot times, there’s not a lot to do in the winter,” said Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jan Ludtke. “It’s exciting. You have a choice.

“It’s good to be outside this time of year, having something to do,” she added.

Temperatures were in the 40s earlier this week, but are forecast to drop into the 20s through Friday. Temps were expected to be in the 40s and perhaps the 50s through the weekend.

The ice at Echo Lake, though, was 12 inches thick last weekend when event crew began setting up the pair of pond-hockey rinks.

Both rinks will be resurfaced before the final event, and goals are being made by Burlington High School students. Pond hockey is played 3-on-3, with no formal goalie but a slot that players need to get the puck through.

Opening round games are set to begin at 6 p.m. Friday, with round two games starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. The championship game is scheduled for 10 p.m. Saturday night.

But hockey isn’t the only contest. On Saturday, there will be a hot chocolate as well as a chili contest, plus there will be a snowman decorating contest.

With snow in short supply, students from BHS are also constructing plywood snowmen, and people are encouraged to bring items to decorate with. The clothes will be donated to Love Inc. at the conclusion of the event.

Saturday’s activities are running concurrent with the annual “Off the Hook” Ice Fishing tournament held on Browns Lake and hosted by the Burlington Jaycees. There will be the annual gun raffles, along with Beaver Dam products, meat raffles, a 50/50 drawing and more, with more than $5,000 available in prizes and raffles.

Ice fishing opens at 8 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m., with registration, beer, food, coffee, restroom facilities, judging and raffles all taking place at the Fischer Park boat launch. Raffles begin at 2:30 p.m.

There will also be pick-up broomball, open skate and food and beverages available. A pancake breakfast will be held Sunday from 8 to 11 a.m. at Veterans Terrace, cost $6 for adults and $3 kids. There will also be the “Cabin Fever” 5K starting at 8 a.m. Sunday.

Mayor Jeannie Hefty said she is excited about the event.

“There’s fun for everyone,” Hefty said. “We’re excited, the community’s excited.”



A rundown of the activities planned for this weekend’s first-ever Hot ChocolateFest:


  • Food and beverages available from 6 to 10 p.m. at Rice’s Liquor and Bruisers adjacent to Echo Park
  • Open skate all day
  • 5:30 p.m. – Opening ceremony with Mayor Jeannie Hefty and “Mr. Admiral” Phil Wittliff
  • 6 p.m. – Round 1 pond hockey games
  • 7 to 9 p.m. – open ice broomball
  • 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Campfire story telling with the City of Burlington Fire Department, along with S’mores making.



  • Food and beverages available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Rice’s and Bruisers
  • Open skate all day
  • 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Off the Hook Ice Fishing hosted by the Burlington Jaycees at Fisher Park on Browns Lake. Raffles at the event begin at 2:30 p.m.
  • 8 a.m. Round 2 pond hockey
  • 9 a.m. to noon – hot chocolate contest
  • 1 to 4 p.m. – chili contest
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – snowman decorating contest
  • 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. – open ice broom ball
  • 11 a.m. to noon – Roscoe from the Milwaukee Admirals and Morsel from Chocolate City USA available for photos
  • 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. – Campfire story telling with the City of Burlington Fire Department, along with S’mores making.
  • 10 p.m. – championship pond hockey game.



  • 8 a.m. – “Cabin Fever” 5K run/walk registration at Veteran’s Terrace. Go to for more information. Event begins at 9 a.m. Cost $35
  • 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Pancake breakfast, Veterans Terrace, $6 adult, $3 kids.