Return to Winterfest
Winterfest is back and, in its 13th year, will be better than ever. At least that's the hope shared by area businesses, Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce events director Billie Rogers said.
"This will, hopefully, bring between 3,000 and 5,000 people, depending on the weather, into Blowing Rock during our off season," she said.
And it will make an impact.
"It's often the thing that helps keep them running throughout the winter," she said.
Marcia Greene, marketing director for Chetola Resort, has seen firsthand what this one weekend can do to business.
"It's very vital," she said. "It's one of the major, major first quarter of the year events."
With signature happenings like the Polar Plunge and live game shows, Winterfest promises to be a four-day weekend to remember whether you're a retailer or a guest, and we've got the full scoop:
APPETIZER, Jan . 26
The Fire on the Rock Exhibition Challenge kicks off Wednesday, Jan. 26, for a pre-show party and culinary delight as last year's Fire on the Rock winner, Sam Beasley (Gamekeeper Restaurant), heads off against Asheville's champ, Rick Boyer (Inn at Biltmore). Expect a six-course dinner, featuring a mystery ingredient, at 6:30 p.m. Make reservations by calling (828) 295-3487 or make online reservations at http://www.crippens.com. The event is $45 per person (plus beverages and tax) and is a preview of tasty things to come.
Day 1, Jan. 27
Winterfeast kicks things off from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Expect restaurants like The Inn at Crestwood, Woodlands Barbeque, Crippen's Country Inn and Foggy Rock Restaurant to join with Manor House chefs at the Manor House Restaurant at Chetola Resort to create an evening of culinary pizazz. Advance tickets are $25 and available online (blowingrockwinterfest.com), at the Blowing Rock Visitors Center (828-295-7851) and Chetola Resort. Tickets at the door are $30 and based on availability. Seatings are 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. It all happens at Chetola (500 N. Main St.).
Channing and Quinn are back with "Music from the Attic" at 8:30 p.m., courtesy Ensemble Stage. It all happens at the Blowing Rock Elementary School Auditorium (160 Sunset Drive). Tickets are $10. Call Ensemble Stage at (828) 919-6196 to reserve yours.
Day 2, Jan. 28
Sip Free Hot Chocolate downtown in Blowing Rock starting at 3 p.m.
Relax to a Free Hayride at 3 p.m., courtesy of Mountain View Realty. The rides depart from the parking lot north of the intersection of U.S. 221 and Main Street.
Toast marshmallows (s'mores supplies provided) at a Dusk Bonfire, weather permitting. It happens at Memorial Park at dusk.
Day 3, Jan. 29
A Raffle and Silent Auction starts at 9 a.m. It goes down at the Blowing Rock School Cafeteria on Morris Street, and proceeds go directly to Mountain Alliance.
The whole family can enjoy Children's Activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with activities scheduled in the Blowing Rock Parks and Rec Activity Center behind Memorial Park. Activities are brought to you by High Country Cloggers.
Feeling fearless? Then the Polar Plunge into Chetola Lake is for you! Sponsored by Chetola Resort, it only costs $25 to jump, with proceeds benefiting local charities. Plungers take the leap at 10 a.m.
Free Hayrides resume at 10 a.m., courtesy of Mountain View Realty. The rides depart from the parking lot north of the intersection of U.S. 221 and Main Street.
Warm up post-plunge with Free Hot Chocolate, starting at 10 a.m. in downtown Blowing Rock.
Warm up your taste buds with the Chili Cook-Off. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., your tongue will sizzle at this Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) sponsored event. Restaurants and individuals will serve up the flavors, spicy, mild, chunky and smooth and even Brunswick stew. It all happens at the Blowing Rock School Gymnasium on Morris Street. Tickets are available at the door ($7 adults, $5 for children 12 and under) and at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.
The Ice Carving Competition kicks off at noon. Watch as blocks of ice are transformed into works of art. Brought to you by Ice Sensations, the event is free and happens at Memorial Park.
Warm up to a Winterfest Wine Tasting, with a wide selection of wines from all over. The tasting happens at 2 p.m. and is followed by a Wine Auction at 4 p.m., where wine won't be the only thing auctioned off. Both events are at the Meadowbrook Inn (711 Main St.). Tickets ($20 in advance, $25 at the door) can be purchased at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce or online at blowingrockwinterfest.com.
Come on down to the Winterfest Family Friendly Game Show with Ensemble Stage Company. You'll have a "Minute to Win It" at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium (160 Sunset Drive) at 3:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $5. Reserve seats by calling (828) 919-6196.
Expect a Snowflake Parade in downtown Blowing Rock at 3:30 p.m., as kids display the snowflakes they made at the Blowing Rock Parks and Rec Activity Center earlier Saturday. Expect them to clog down Main Street. High Country Cloggers, the parade sponsors, hope you'll bring a can of food to donate to Watauga County Schools' food pantry. Food goes home with needy kids on the weekends.
Bring the kids for a Dusk Bonfire at Memorial Park when the sun goes down. S'mores supplies will be provided.
Things heat up at the Hayes Performing Arts Center (152 Jamie Fort Road), as The Kruger Brothers take the stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.50 and are available by calling the box office at (828) 295-9627.
Couples take center stage at Ensemble Stage's "Not Necessarily Newlywed Game." It happens at 9 p.m. at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium (160 Sunset Drive). General admission tickets are $8, and you can reserve yours by calling (828) 919-6196. Adults only!
Day 4, Jan. 30
Start your day with a hearty meal at the 8 a.m. Winterfest Pancake Breakfast at the Blowing Rock School Cafeteria on Morris Street. Hosted by Knight's on Main, the breakfast benefits Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue. Tickets are available at the door.
Hitch a ride, a Free Hayride, courtesy of Mountain View Realty. The rides depart from the parking lot north of the intersection of U.S. 221 and Main Street. Sunday rides start at 1 p.m.
Free Hot Chocolate resumes at 1 p.m. downtown.
Ice Sensations brings an Ice Carving Demonstration to Memorial Park at 1 p.m.
No barks about it, the Winter Paws Dog Show is the place to be at 1:30 p.m. (registration begins at 1 p.m.). It all happens at the Blowing Rock School Gymnasium and is co-sponsored by the Watauga County Humane Society.
Shop 'til you drop in downtown Blowing Rock and Tanger Outlets. Boutiques and specialty gift stores are the perfect way to get a jump start on shopping for your Valentine (or yourself).
For more information on Winterfest activities, call (877) 295-7801 or visit http://www.blowingrockwinterfest.com.