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WinterFest Returns, Chetola Resort Set to Host Polar Plunge and Pre-Plunge Bonfire

By Katie Benfield 

While the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce is responsible for putting on Winterfest, Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock is home to beautiful scenery, gorgeous interior design and is one of the many hosts of the annual events of WinterFest.

“This year, we are proud to host the annual WinterFeast again,” Allison West, Marketing and PR Manager for Chetola Resort, said. “This year we have 15 restaurants involved; they will all bring their signature dishes to the Timberlake’s, and that allows everyone to get a sampling.”

WinterFeast takes place on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 5:30-8:00 p.m. and tickets are $35 a piece. It involves restaurants such as Canyons, Blowing Rock Ale House, Best Cellar, Roots Restaurant, Bistro Roca and many more.

Along with this, Chetola Resort is hosting a pre-Plunge bonfire on Friday, Jan. 27 from 7-9 p.m.

“Usually our bonfires are on Saturday, and we are still having one on Friday” West said. “This year, though, we are adding a bonfire on Friday night in celebration of the Polar Plunge that will take place on Saturday.”

The bonfire on Friday night will be packed full of fun. According to West, there will be music, a cash bar, s’mores, free hot chocolate and story-telling by Revonda Crowe about the “Lost Plunger.”

As the host of the Polar Plunge during WinterFest, Chetola Resort has a very important role to play.

The Polar Plunge takes place on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon and is one of the biggest events of WinterFest. People who jump into Chetola Lake, referred to as Plungers, usually dress in costumes before taking the leap into the freezing waters.

“Everyone dresses up in crazy costumes and jumps into the icy lake,” West said. “They climb out of that lake at almost incomprehensible speeds. Then they wrap themselves in towels and race up to the rec center before rinsing off and jumping into the hot tub.”

It is recommended that a plunger should also take a dip in the pool before getting into the hot tub as the drastic change in temperature from the cold to the hot is not good for your body. 

John Carter, the WBTV morning anchor, is the emcee for this year’s plunge. At the end of the plunge, judges award the “Golden Plunger” award to the best costumes. The jumping begins at 10:00 am, and 50% of the net proceeds go towards Western Youth Network and Hospitality House. Registration for the event is $35 each and begins at 9 a.m. The first 75 plungers to register will receive a “Freezin’ for a Reason WinterFest Cup.”

For those who aren’t interested in standing outside and watching the Plunge up close and personal, there are tickets being sold for a Polar Plunge Brunch, which will take place in Timbers Room from 10 a.m. to noon. Tickets are $22 for adults and $16 for children 12 and under.

“We will have a live video feed in the Timbers Room of the Polar Plunge,” West said. “So, that people can enjoy a buffet in the warmth and watch the festivities from the restaurant.”

Chetola is a beautiful resort, and there isn’t a better venue for these WinterFest events.

“We are proud to be the host of these events,” West said. “We look forward to being a part of this year’s festival again.”

For more information on reservations, call the Timberlake’s Restaurant at 828-295-5505.

For more information on purchasing tickets for the WinterFest, contact the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at 800-295-7851.

Photo by Lonnie Webster: