WinterFest is On Its Way! Polar Plunge, Chili Cook-Off and More Slated for Jan. 28-31

Published Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 10:40 am

By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]

Photos by Todd Bush

Ready to cool off? It’s finally starting to feel like January around the High Country, and the cold is coming just in time for Blowing Rock’s annual WinterFest celebration.

Blowing Rock WinterFest Polar Plunge. Photo by Todd Bush.

Blowing Rock WinterFest Polar Plunge. Photo by Todd Bush.

Whether you live around here or you’re coming to visit, WinterFest 2016 has a ton of fun slated for the four-day weekend of Jan. 28-31. This year’s “More Fire, More Ice” motto ensures that there’s plenty of excitement heating up this winter.

Enjoy the contrast of fire and ice this year! Cool down with crisp mountain air, skiing and winter sports, an ice carving competition and the oh-so-cold polar plunge, and thaw out with a chili contest, a firewalk demonstration, a bonfire and so much more.

Polar Plunge

Are you ready to take the plunge? Sport your best costume and take a dive at this year’s Polar Plunge on Saturday, Jan. 30, where the most adventurous WinterFest attendants will jump into the icy cold lake at Chetola Resort.

Blowing Rock WinterFest Polar Plunge. Photo by Todd Bush.

Blowing Rock WinterFest Polar Plunge. Photo by Todd Bush.

Events Director Billie Rogers of the Blowing Rock Chamber said it’ll take “$25 and no sense” to join in on this super cool event.

“Our emcee is john Carter, the news anchor for WBTV out of Charlotte. He has quite a presence and just adds a lot of enthusiasm and fun to the event,” Rogers said. “The best part of the event, in my opinion, is that just about everyone who takes the plunge is in costume. It’s not just people diving into the water, it’s people dressed as Uncle Sam or rubber duckies diving into the water.”

The Polar Plunge will raise funds to support two local nonprofit organizations — the Western Youth Network and the Hospitality House.

If you’re feeling a little wild and crazy, sign up now using this registration form and start planning your get-up. Remember, the best costume will win the illustrious “Golden Plunge” award.

Registration opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday and the plunge will begin at 10 a.m., but get there early for a good view if you’re staying on land.

Want to stay indoors but don’t want to miss the excitement? Get in on the Polar Plunge brunch buffet at Timberlake’s for a special menu and watch a live feed of the plunge.

Chilly Chili Cook-Off

Whether you’re jumping in the Polar Plunge or not, you’ll soon be ready for a hot bowl of chili. When you leave Chetola, head over to the gymnasium at Blowing Rock Elementary School and warm back up with the annual Chilly Chili Cook-Off.

The High Country’s best restaurants and at-home chefs will offer up their most impressive recipes, and you can try them all with unlimited tasting for just $7.

“There are a huge variety of types of chili out there. There’s usually some chicken chili, some vegetarian chili, some beef chili—there’s just no telling what you’ll get to taste,” Rogers said. “It’s a whole hodgepodge of everything and you get to decide which ones you like the most.

Blowing Rock WinterFest Chilly Chili Cook-Off. Photo by Todd Bush.

Blowing Rock WinterFest Chilly Chili Cook-Off. Photo by Todd Bush.

“The tables are really decorated up, so you get to see a lot of tables in costume. It’s just fun, it’s inside and it’s a great way to spend a chilly day.”

Stroll through the gym, try the chili and enjoy live music from local group Handlebar Betty.

Think your chili can take the heat? Download the registration form to sign up and get cooking! Your recipe might even win the People’s Choice Award.

For individual and business industries, cash prizes are up for grabs: $500, $250 and $100 for first, second and third place, respectively. The first-place restaurant will earn a banner in the Blowing Rock school gym and the Chili Travel Trophy handcrafted by local artisan Alex Hallmark.

WinterFest Snowflake Parade

Hit the streets for the annual Snowflake Parade at 3 p.m. on Saturday to celebrate the magic of winter. Kids of all ages will show off handmade puppets and works of art as these little snowflakes take a trip down Main Street and travel through town to say hello to the crowd.

In honor of their recent win at their first ever bowl game, the Appalachian State Mountaineers football team will join the parade, along with an array of folks representing the university.

“The parade has always been very small, but then we heard that ASU won the Camellia Bowl and we decided to go big or go home! The chancellor is going to be there along with the deans of all of the schools, the athletics department and the marching band,” Rogers said. “They’re inviting 4,500 members of the Yosef Club to come out and watch the parade. John Carter will emcee the parade, too.”

Blowing Rock WinterFest Chilly Chili Cook-Off. Photo by Todd Bush.

Blowing Rock WinterFest Chilly Chili Cook-Off. Photo by Todd Bush.

The parade will also feature the winner of the Little Miss WinterFest competition, all of the Little Miss WinterFest contestants, the humane society and several chamber sponsors.

Winter Paws Dog Show

Don’t leave town without checking out the Winter Paws Dog Show hosted by the Watauga Humane Society on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 1:30 p.m. during WinterFest.

Registration begins at noon, and there’s a $25 entry fee per category for all six categories, which include: Most Mysterious Heritage, Best Wiggle Butt (Tail Wagger), Most Clever Dog Trick, Best Dog/Owner Look-a-Like, Best Winter Wear and Most Crooked Smile.

The winners from each category will go on to compete for the Best in Show title and the grand prize!

Raffle tickets will be available for purchase to win awesome dog prizes and several adoptable dogs will be on-site. All proceeds will support the Watauga Humane Society.

More Information

WinterFest is organized by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and presented by Hendrick Northlake Luxury Auto Mall.

Want to learn more about WinterFest? Call the chamber at 828-295-7851, send an email to [email protected] or check out

Interested in volunteering for WinterFest or other Blowing Rock events? Send an email to Rogers at [email protected] and she’ll forward your message to the volunteer coordinator.

Stay tuned for more updates on other WinterFest events!

The schedule includes:

Thursday, Jan. 28

  • WinterFeast
  • WinterFeast After Party
  • Shop Til You Drop
  • High Country Small Plate Crawl

Friday, Jan. 29

  • WinterFashion Show
  • Cork and Canvas at BRAHM
  • WinterFest Family Night at App Ski Mountain
  • Bonfire
  • Shop Til You Drop
  • High Country Small Plate Crawl

 Saturday, Jan. 30

  • Polar Plunge
  • Chilly Chili Cook-Off
  • Arctic Art at BrrrAHM!
  • Little Miss WinterFest
  • Silent Auction and Raffle
  • WinterFest Snowflake Parade with ASU
  • Southeast Regional Invitational Collegiate Ice Carving Competition
  • Hayrides
  • WinterTastings and Auction
  • BrrrAHM: Free Admission
  • WinterFest Firewalk by Firewalk Productions
  • Bonfire at Chetola Resort
  • Shop Til You Drop
  • High Country Small Plate Crawl

Sunday, Jan. 31

  • WinterPaws Dog Show
  • Shop Til You Drop
  • High Country Small Plate Crawl



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