By Katie Benfield
This past weekend WinterFest made its return for another year full of successful and enjoyable festivities in Blowing Rock.
The events for WinterFest started off with the WinterFeast that took place at the Chetola Resort, one of the many hosts of this year’s festival, on Thursday.
“It was a sold out event,” Charles Hardin, CEO of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, said. “We had 15 local restaurants participating and 300 people attended, so it was a very successful event.”
On Friday night at 5:30, the annual parade took place with various participants ranging from the College of Education at App State to a variety of representatives from athletic teams of the university.
“There were a lot of people, walking and riding in the parade,” Hardin said. “Chancellor Everts was there. There was a good amount of people that came out, even though it was cold.”
Directly after the parade was the Ice Stroll that took place in downtown Blowing Rock. There were ice sculptures set up outside of the businesses that sponsored them, and there were even sculptures in and around the gazebo, including a giant throne that people could sit on.
“Last year, the temperature was so warm that the sculptures started to melt on the first day,” Hardin said. “This year, though, they’re still intact today!”
Saturday was the big day with the Polar Plunge at the Chetola Resort. According to Hardin, there were about 108 participants in the jump and, although there was no ice on the lake, the water was still freezing.
Also on Saturday, there was an event called the Beer Garden and Chili Challenge. Basically, the Chili Challenge involved 12-15 restaurants competing to make the best chili at the event. The winner of this year was Restaurant G from the Gideon Ridge Inn.
“This was like a people’s choice thing — people go around and taste all the chili and then vote,” Hardin said.
Craft breweries were also present to provide participants and the audiences with beers of the High Country.
With all these events, and many more, this year’s WinterFest was one for the ages. Thankfully, Lonnie Webster was there to document these events with his beautiful photography.
“All-in-all, it was a really great weekend. The weather was perfect with snow on the ground, but not on the road,” Hardin said. “A lot of people came out, and it was a lot of fun.”
The upcoming events that the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce is hosting involve an awards luncheon at the Chetola Resort on Feb. 7 at 11:30 a.m. and Savor Blowing Rock: A Celebration of Food and Drink that will take place from April 20-23 which involves alcohol and food tastings of the High Country.
For more information on these events, visit the Chamber’s website.
Photo by Lonnie Webster: