by Madison V. Fisler
Jan. 22, 2014. Blowing Rock’s annual Winterfest celebration has come to be known as one of the premier winter events in the High Country. The yearly celebration is a family friendly affair that celebrates the cold winter of the High Country with tons of exciting winter activities for the whole family to enjoy Jan. 23-26.
Blowing Rock WinterFest 2014 will kick off the days stuffed full with exciting events with the annual WinterFEAST. Blowing Rock’s most talented culinary masters will come together in this highly anticipated annual event which takes place at Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola, where guests can enjoy a mouthwatering menu prepared by the best of the best.
This year’s participating restaurants include Timberlake’s at Chetola Resort, Canyons, Blowing Rock Ale House, Best Cellar, the Chestnut Grille, Meadowbrook Inn, Foggy Rock, The Table at Crestwood, Bald Guy Brew, Bistro Roca, Restaurant G, The New Public House, Stick Boy Bread Company, Rowlands Restaurant at Westglow and Woodlands. Tables are available for purchase for $600, seating 8-10. Call Billie Rodgers at the Chamber of Commerce for reservations. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, free hayrides will be offered from the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce sponsored by Country Boy Landscaping.
For the strongest at heart, the Polar Plunge at Chetola Lake will take place at 10 a.m. on Jan. 25. Chetola starts cutting through the thick layer of ice in advance so competitors get to feel the full fury of the frozen water. Cheer for your favorite “Plunger”, most of them in costume, and enjoy the new emcee, John Carter.
Polar Plunge Judges will award the famous “Golden Plunge” award to the competitors who plunge in the best costumes. Plungers begin jumping at 10 a.m. but get there early for good viewing! Proceeds will benefit local charities Western Youth Network and Watauga Humane Society.
One of the most exciting parts of the WinterFest Celebration is the annual Chilly Chili Challenge. This year, however, the challenge is being put on by Blowing Rock Elementary School.
“The Blowing Rock School needs to raise $75,000 for new playground equipment for the kids,” said Billie Rogers, event coordinator at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, the entity that usually puts on the Chili Cookoff.
“We gave this event to the Blowing Rock School so they could use it to raise money for the school.”
The Chilly Chili Challenge will kick of Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. The yearly chili cook-off between restaurants, freestyle cooks and proclaimed chili-masters is hot competition indeed, with many different entrants preparing their honed recipes to take home the top prize. The competition annually draws a crowd of more than 1,000 people to try all of the different chili offered by the fierce competition.
There will be three categories in the competition, from freestyle, to business, and restaurant categories, and chili gurus will face fierce competition for the top prize. There will also be a “People’s Choice Award” so make sure to come out and vote for your favorites while supporting a great cause.
The Wine Tasting and Charity Auction, sponsored by the Blue Ridge Mountain Club, will take place beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 at Green Park Inn with the Charity Auction taking place promptly at 4 p.m.
Items up for auction include a Blue Ridge Mountain Club basket, Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival basket and much more. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be available for purchase at the event. Tickets are available for $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Participants must be age 21 or older with valid photo ID.
Appalachian Ski Mtn will host a variety of events for the WinterFest celebration. WinterFest family night will be held at the ski resort on Friday, Jan. 24. Learn to Ski / Learn to Snowboard packages will be offered through French-Swiss Ski College with special pricing. A special ice skating session with S’mores Roasting by the Rinkside Bonfire is offered for the “gliders” who love the ice.
Join the BRAHM Cocoa and Canvas to celebrate WinterFest with the entire family. Cocoa and Canvas is a fun, two-hour art class in which participants will work with a professional art instructor to create a painting that they will take home at the end of the class. The class will be light-hearted, and no previous art experience is necessary. The cost is $40 for non-members and $35 for members. BRAHM will provide drinks and light refreshments, as well as all of the art supplies. Children over age 10, accompanied by an adult, are welcome.
Don’t forget to check out the runway at the Meadowbrook Inn on Friday at 11 a.m. for a fun fashion show during WinterFest! Blowing Rock retailers join forces to bring you the finest ladies apparel and accessories during the WinterFest WinterFashion Show. The newest winter and spring fashions will be featured from the area’s top retail stores including Doncaster, Monkees, TazMaRaz, Couture by Finley House, JW Tweeds, and more! Tickets are $25 per person with a cash bar available and a yummy lunch at 11:30.
All throughout WinterFest, live music can be found almost everywhere. Local musicians like The King Bees, The Buck Haggard Band, The Harris Brothers and more will hold concerts during the winter tradition. For dates, times and ticket information, click here.
“WinterFest is a huge draw for tourism,” said Tracy Brown, executive director of the Blowing Rock Tourism Authority.
“Other than winter sports, it is a slow time of the year in the area because folks have just gotten off of Christmas and New Year’s. Typically in the winter, the numbers drop substantially with tourism, and this is a great way for us to get a little bump in the numbers. We bring a lot of people up here from the piedmont and we offer lots of things that you can’t get off the mountain. A lot of people end up falling in love and coming back.”
And WinterFest is just as popular with the locals, who have been taking part in this tradition for 16 years and counting.
The 2014 Blowing Rock WinterFest almost has too much to do over the many days of family fun. Check out as many activities as you like and make it a WinterFest tradition to remember.
For more information about more WinterFest activities, or for tickets and sponsorships, click here.