OGDEN -- If your chicken dancing needs a little work, better get those wings a-flapping.
Sneddon Hof Winterfest begins next weekend, and the Chicken Dance is an ever-popular part of the two-day merriment at the Golden Spike Event Center.
Authentic German music, foods, crafts and clothing will also be featured Jan. 14 and 15 -- a weekend when all Top of Utah residents love to be German.
The winter festival lets guests feel like they're visiting Germany without even getting a passport, said Debbie Shelton, event coordinator for the Golden Spike Event Center.
"It gives them a chance to experience German culture -- European culture -- without the expense of the European trip," she said.
The winter festival, which draws about 5,000 visitors, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The first Hof Winter Carnival was in 1987 in downtown Ogden, with skiing on a manufactured ski hill on a city street.
The event was the brainchild of the late Scott Sneddon, who was then a city council member and later served as mayor of Ogden. Sneddon wanted to nurture the sister-city relationship between Ogden and the town of Hof, in the Bavarian countryside.
"I think Scott would still be very happy (with the festival) and I think a testament to that would be (that) his family still stays involved with it," said Jim Harvey, general manager of the Golden Spike Event Center.
Shelton volunteered at the early carnivals because she had lived in Germany as a "military brat" and was interested in the culture. She recalls ice skating on a frozen empty lot on 25th Street and looking at snow sculptures created on the plaza at Union Station.
The festival moved to the Weber County Fairgrounds around 1997 and has found a niche on the third weekend in January, Harvey said.
"For Northern Utah, for that weekend, it's the only show in town," he said.
The 2011 event features some new craft vendors, Shelton said, including a build-your-own-stuffed-animal booth, a European clothing booth, and a souvenir booth with Russian nesting dolls.
Hof Winterfest has endured because it's a family-friendly event with activities for all ages, said Katherine Sneddon, widow of Scott Sneddon and a member of the planning committee.
Over the years, as they worked on the festival, Katherine and her husband also visited Hof, Germany, many times, taking Ogden-area soccer teams, bands and singing groups with them.
"You actually got to stay with the German people in their homes, which is a lot different than staying in a hotel," said the Pleasant View resident. "You learned to care about the people and make friendships."
After Ogden dropped its sponsorship of the festival in 1996, the Sneddons and other volunteers staged it on their own for years, Katherine Sneddon said. Sometimes, the event kept going only because her husband was passionate about it, "even though it didn't break even."
Weber County offered to sponsor the event just before Scott Sneddon passed away in 2005.
"I really appreciate them carrying it on," Katherine Sneddon said. "Traditions are a good thing, whether they're family or community. ... I think remembering is good."
Grab your lederhosen and check out these activities at Sneddon Hof Winterfest:
11:30 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m. -- Salzburger Echo, Sandy
1 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 8:20 p.m. -- Yodeler Kerry Christensen, Provo
2 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9:15 p.m. -- Minimax band, Hof, Germany
6:30 p.m. -- Opening ceremony
7:45 p.m. -- Weber State Institute Folk Dancers, Ogden
10 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 4 p.m., 7:15 p.m. -- Salzburger Echo
11:15 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 8:15 p.m. -- Kerry Christensen
12:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 9 p.m. -- Minimax
6:30 p.m. -- Weber State Institute Folk Dancers