By Harley Nefe
Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce’s 24th annual WinterFest will begin Thursday, January 27 and go through Sunday, January 30, offering opportunities for residents and visitors alike to celebrate the fun side of the chilly winter season.
“We have a cool lineup of activities, food specials and events going on all weekend,” said Suzy Barker, Events and Communications Specialist and WinterFest Coordinator for the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.
Interested participants are encouraged to check out WinterFest’s website that has been remodeled since previous years. The site now organizes events based on categories such as “Outdoor Fun,” “Food & Drink,” “Kids & Family,” “Arts & Entertainment,” “After Dark” and “All Events.” The full schedule of events for the weekend is still available as well.
“You can visit https://blowingrockwinterfest.com/ to see a list of businesses that have really stepped up to the plate to offer either events at their attractions or specials at their restaurants,” Barker said.
Many businesses are participating in the event and are bringing to the table special treats that they are known for.
“We have a couple of cool food specials going on around town,” Barker said. “Blue Deer on Main has the official WinterFest cookie. It’s a blueberry ice cream and sugar cookie — it’s really cute and looks like our WinterFest branding.”
Barker continued to describe, “Hellbender Bed & Beverage has the official WinterFest cocktail. It has Maker’s Mark and some other goodies in it. It has Curacao, so it’s blue — It’s the perfect bright WinterFest blue, so we’re excited about that.”
The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce has also partnered with Blowing Rock Brewing, which will be releasing on draft only the official WinterFest ale. Barker talked about meeting with the head brewer months ago to discuss ideas about what the drink should look and taste like.
“WinterFest is a lot like last year where a lot of restaurants and people are hosting their own events, and we’re promoting the specials,” she said. “The Chamber is hosting just a handful of ticketed events.”
One of the highly anticipated activities is the Polar Bear Plunge.
“The Chamber is really excited to be hosting the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, January 29 at Chetola Resort,” Barker said. “You can still register for that event, but if you’re not brave enough to plunge yourself, you can come and watch.”
The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce is also hosting its 5th annual WinterFest Beer Garden on Saturday afternoon from 1-4:30 p.m. on the Chamber lawn.
“We’ve got about 10 breweries coming to visit us to sample beer and their craft beverages,” Barker said. “We’ll also have food trucks.”
Tickets are still being sold for the Beer Garden event as well as a few wine seminars that will be occurring.
Another popular event that will be happening is the Charity Chili Challenge, which will take place all over town on January 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“You can visit one of the participating restaurants and order a bowl of chili, and the portion of sales that day will go to their nonprofit of choice, and all of those participants are on the website,” Barker explained.
People can also view a variety of ice sculptures outside of local businesses that will be on display throughout Blowing Rock starting Friday evening with the WinterFest Ice Stroll from 4-7 p.m.
“We have more ice sculptures this year than ever before, so we’re excited about the Ice Stroll,” Barker said. “This weekend is going to be awesome in Blowing Rock, and it’s going to be cold, so please bundle up. It’s the perfect weekend to do what we do best and celebrate the fun side of winter!”
The Ice Stroll, Charity Chili Challenge, Polar Bear Plunge and Beer Garden are just some of the events that are happening during WinterFest. For full details and an expandable schedule of events, go to blowingrockwinterfest.com. Also follow Blowing Rock WinterFest on Facebook for special online content throughout the weekend at facebook.com/BRWinterfest. Information is also available by calling 828-295-7851.