Fundraising effort launched to keep Hartford’s Wintefest running despite budget cuts

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HARTFORD--An effort is being made to ensure the Hartford Winterfest 2016 skating rink offerings continue as planned, despite city budget issues.

A crowdsourcing webpage has been established to support the annual event in Hartford, and it's already been a success!

In just one week, $45,000 has been raised. That includes a $25,000 donation from Travelers.

Winterfest offers free skating for eight weeks, free of charge, during the winter in Bushnell Park. However, the rink lost a lot of its budget for the upcoming season. iQuilt, MetroHartford Alliance, HBID, Businesses for Downtown Hartford, the Bushnell Park Foundation and the city of Hartford, which together plan Winterfest, have decided to have a shorter season to cut $80,000 in costs, but the cost is still $200,000. Half is typically paid for by the city and the other half by corporate sponsors, but now the hope is to completely fund the event through outside donations.

The goal is to fund one more winter, and then "carefully research and plan new funding for this incredible resource," according to the campaign.

"We're kind of hoping there's a lot of people who've enjoyed downtown and love our capital city, and we're kind of hoping a lot of people will come out and give us a little or a lot to help us fund raise because we think... we can really get this done and have Winterfest this year," said Jackie Mandyck, the managing director for iQuilt.

News broke on Monday that Hartford and East Hartford would have to cancel many aspects of Riverfest 2016, including the fireworks, less than two weeks before the event because of budget restraints. Now, a GoFundMe has been launched for that event as well, though it's unclear if the decision to cancel the event could be reversed at this point.

To donate to Winterfest, click here. To donate to Riverfest, click here.