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Hot Fun in the Wintertime

Article Published: Jan. 21, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Hot Fun in the Wintertime

Cold-hardy contestants can test their mettle in the Polar Plunge at Blowing Rock's WinterFest, scheduled for Jan. 28-31. File photo

The sub-freezing temperatures of earlier this month have left little doubt that we are in the middle of another High Country winter.

That cold weather is the perfect setting for many outdoor activities, such as skiing and skating, and for indoor activities, such as concerts and dinners by the fireside.

The 12th annual Blowing Rock WinterFest will provide plenty of indoor and outdoor fun next weekend. The town expects several thousand visitors to the village and is preparing for the most successful WinterFest in history.

Blowing Rock WinterFest features a host of activities for the entire family, including the Chili Challenge, the Polar Plunge, hot chocolate, cider and bonfires in Blowing Rock Memorial Park, hayrides, an ice carving competition and demonstration, a concert with Echo Park, the Ensemble Stage's Game Show events, wine tasting and charity auction, kids activities and much more.
One of the highlights of this year's WinterFest is the special dinner called WinterFeast. Held at Chetola Resort's Manor House Restaurant, WinterFeast is an opportunity to sample the fare from more than a dozen Blowing Rock eateries.

Participating restaurants in this year's WinterFeast include The Manor House Restaurant at Chetola Resort, The Best Cellar, Rowland's Restaurant at Westglow Resort and Spa, Crippen's Country Inn, Kojays Eatery and Coffeehouse, Six Pence Pub, Canyons Restaurant, The Gamekeeper, The Table at Crestwood Inn, Woodlands BBQ and Pickin' Parlor, the Meadowbrook Inn, Glidewell's on Main and Bistro Roca.

WinterFeast takes place on Thursday, Jan. 28, with seatings at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

WinterFest's famous Polar Plunge event takes place at Chetola Resort on Saturday at 10 a.m. Watch as intrepid divers take the icy plunge into the frigid waters of Chetola Lake. During some particularly cold winters, WinterFest organizers have been forced to break out the chainsaws and sledge hammers to carve a hole for the divers to dive into the lake - and it looks like it's going to be one of those years. The divers will be judged for their costumes and technique as they vie for the coveted Golden Plunger award. This event is free of charge.

WinterFest's Chili Challenge on Saturday will feature both amateur and restaurant division chili chefs serving up their best recipes for fun, fame and profit. The prizes for best chili in the amateur division are $500 for first, $250 for second and $125 for third. The best professional chili maker will walk away with the prestigious Chili Trophy, won last year by the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock.

The event takes place at the Blowing Rock School gymnasium on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and features live music by High Country bluegrass, jazz and rock band Upright and Breathin'. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.

The annual WinterFest Ice Carving Competition returns to Memorial Park on Saturday at noon. Watch as some of the best ice carvers in the Southeast race against the clock to create original centerpieces. Many of the contestants in this year's competition are instructors and students from Ice Sensations in Charlotte, one of the state's premiere ice carving centers. The event is free of charge. An ice carving demonstration will take place in the park on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The newly formed Ensemble Stage Company will be front and center during the 12th annual WinterFest celebration. On Saturday, the company will present WinterFest Game Shows, a pair of entertaining stage shows based on some of the best-loved TV game shows in television history.
Match Game will be presented at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 4 p.m. The popular '70s game show will be relived as contestants chosen from the audience will try to make a psychic connection to match their answers of madcap questions with a panel of local and regional celebrities.

"The winner of the game will receive a fabulous prize, and the loser will get a nice parting gift," said Gary Lee Smith of the Ensemble Stage Company.

General admission tickets to this family-friendly game show are $5 per person and can be purchased online or by calling (828) 406-2884.

Not Necessarily Newlywed Game will be presented by Ensemble Stage at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m. This '60s and '70s game show that always kept TV censors on their toes is being resurrected especially for WinterFest. Couples will find out just how much they really know about each other as they compete for valuable prizes. Tickets are $5 per person.

Ensemble Stage will also present a special concert featuring High Country rockers Echo Park on Friday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. in the Blowing Rock School Auditorium. The band has recently received rave reviews for its presentation of The Who rock opera Tommy, and has reunited for this special show. Tickets are $12 per person and are available now by calling (828) 406-2884 or by visiting

Meadowbrook Inn will once again be the center of attention for wine lovers. The annual WinterFest Wine Tasting and Auction takes place at Meadowbrook Inn, starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Ticket prices are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and you must be 21 years of age to purchase tickets. Proceeds from the event will go to support Wine to Water's mission to bring fresh water to the earthquake devastated country of Haiti.

Nothing takes the chill off the morning like a good hot breakfast, and WinterFest has a great one. The annual WinterFest Pancake Breakfast-featuring hotcakes with butter and syrup, bacon and coffee or juice-will be held at the Blowing Rock School cafeteria on Sunday, Jan. 31, from 8 to 11 a.m. The event is hosted by Knights on Main restaurant and raises money for the Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue and the new Station 8. Admission to the pancake breakfast is $7 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under, and free for all kids under the age of two.

For more information about this weekend's Blowing Rock WinterFest, call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851.

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