WinterFest returns to Blowing Rock
by Jeff Eason
Not everyone in the South is able to enjoy winter, with snow and ice and dangerous driving, like the mountain-dwellers do.
For the past 15 years, folks in the mountains have been kind enough to share their unique winter situation with people from all over during Blowing Rock’s annual WinterFest celebration.
The event, presented by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for Jan. 24-27 and promises to be the biggest and best one yet.
On Thursday, Jan. 24, fans of fine dining will gather at Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort for WinterFeast. The annual dinner will feature a buffet-style meal where guests can sample some of the finest culinary creations from a number of area restaurants. This year’s participating restaurants include Timberlake’s, Rowland’s at Westglow, The Table at Crestwood, The Best Cellar, The Laurel Room at the Green Park Inn, Canyons of the Blue Ridge, Meadowbrook Inn and Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub. Tickets for WinterFeast are $25 in advance and $30 at the door (if available). Seatings are at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. To reserve tickets, call (828) 295-7851.
Craft beer tasting
After your WinterFeast meal, join your friends at Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub on Valley Boulevard for the Winter Ales Craft Tasting. The event will feature a wide variety of North Carolina winter ales, presented by their distributors. For more information, call Foggy Rock at (828) 295-7262.
Friday’s WinterFest celebration kicks off with a new event. The WinterFashions Show will be held at Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort beginning at 11 a.m. Models will be strutting their stuff wearing fashions from Doncaster, Monkee’s, J.W. Tweeds, Sister Act, TazMaRaz, Celeste’s, the Fig Leaf and Almost Rodeo Drive. Admission is $25 and features lunch and a wonderful fashion show of winter and spring wear from the ladies’ shops in Blowing Rock. To reserve tickets, call (828) 295-7851.
The Blowing Rock School’s PTO will host a special spaghetti dinner and bingo event on Friday from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Join your friends in the cafeteria for a $5 spaghetti dinner that includes meat or vegetarian spaghetti, salad, rolls and drink. Then walk to the school’s gymnasium for $1 bingo cards that could win you all kinds of valuable prizes. All of the proceeds from the event will go to benefit ongoing and future projects at Blowing Rock School.
To help celebrate WinterFest, the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum is offering discounted admission of $3 per person all weekend long. Currently, the museum features an exhibit by the N.C. Watercolor Society, as well as other exhibits dedicated to woodworking and the Civil War in Western North Carolina. For more information, call BRAHM at (828) 295-9099.
Live music will be on tap at two restaurants on Friday evening during WinterFest. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., bluegrass pickers The Neighbors will be performing at MK’s Southern Cooking (formerly Glidewell’s) on Main Street. Admission is free.
The Harris Brothers will be performing at Blowing Rock School auditorium beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person or two tickets for $25. The Harris Brothers are well known in Western North Carolina for the virtuosity and wide range of material in the blues, rock, Americana and pop styles. To reserve tickets, call (828) 295-7851.
Wine, Cheese and Art
The Mountain Cottage at 257 Sunset Drive will be hosting a special WinterFest event on Friday called “Wine, Cheese, and Art!” Come by the gallery from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to see art from local artists and enjoy a glass of wine from Banner Elk Winery. For more information, call (828) 295-4622.
App Ski Mountain specials
On Friday, Appalachian Ski Mountain will offer special pricing on skiing and snowboard instruction from its world-renowned French-Swiss Ski College. Reservations are required. Call (828) 295-7828.
Raffle and silent auction
On Saturday, Mountain Alliance, a program to promote leadership and to bring outdoor activities to local youths, will host the annual WinterFest Raffle and Silent Auction, located in the Blowing Rock School cafeteria. Dozens of items, including trips, ski packages, hotel packages and restaurant packages, will be raffled off, and incredible deals will be available on all sorts of items at the silent auction. The raffle and silent auction takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the highlights of WinterFest is the annual Polar Plunge at Chetola Lake. Watch as more than 100 brave souls jump into the frigid lake in an effort to raise money for their favorite charities. Some jumpers will be making their 15th annual plunge, while others will be taking the dip for the first time. The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at Chetola Resort and is free for spectators.
The Watauga Youth Network will provide a safe and fun day for children on Saturday at the Blowing Rock American Legion Hall. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., parents are invited to accompany their children for activities such as crafts, reading, snowflake decorating and more.
Following the children’s activities, kids and their families are invited to attend the wedding of snowman Chilly and snowwoman Crystal at the gazebo in Memorial Park. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. and everyone is invited. The wedding is presented by the Association of Consultants and Events Services.
Hayrides and hot cocoa
While you are at the town park, be sure to take advantage of the free hayrides given through downtown. It’s the perfect way to relax and watch the town go by. There will also be free hot chocolate offered in front of the park.
Ski equipment demo
Blowing Rock Realty and SweetGrass will host a cross-country ski and snow equipment demonstration and exhibition at SweetGrass (6 miles outside Blowing Rock). The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Enjoy games, prizes, a snow-dog building contest, hot chocolate and cookies. Call (828) 295-9861 for details and directions.
The 15th annual WinterFest Chili Challenge will be held at the Blowing Rock School gymnasium from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. It’s a great way to get warm — from the inside out. The event features three levels of competition: professional cooks, amateurs and contestants from the Chili Appreciation Society International. For noncontestants, it’s a great way to taste the seemingly infinite ways there are to make chili. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Be sure to get there early.
Some of the area’s best musicians will be gathering for the WinterFest Saturday Jam Brunch at Canyons on Valley Boulevard. The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and is free.
Ice carving team
The U.S. Army Special Forces Ice Carving Team will turn blocks of ice into enchanting works of art from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday in Blowing Rock Memorial Park.
Wine tasting and auction
The ice-carving team is also responsible for building the “liquor luge” that will be on the front porch of the Green Park Inn on Saturday. Enjoy an ice cold beverage in a shot glass made of ice before attending the WinterFest Wine Tasting at the Green Park Inn. The tasting begins at 2 p.m. and will be followed by the WinterFest Wine Auction. The auction will feature an outstanding selection of wines and wine-related items.
Ensemble Stage Company will present an old-fashioned interactive melodrama titled “Adrift in Blowing Rock” (or “Pure as the Driven Snow”) at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for this tale of treachery and treason are $10 for adults and $5 for children 16 and younger. For more information, call (828) 414-1844.
Bonfire and s’mores
At dusk, join your friends at the bonfire at Memorial Park to make your own toasted marshmallows or s’mores. All supplies will be provided. Event is weather permitting.
The annual WinterFest Pancake Breakfast will be held at the Blowing Rock School cafeteria from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12, and free for children 2 and younger. Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the High Country Women’s Fund.
Sunday jazz brunch
Canyons will host a WinterFest Sunday Jazz Brunch featuring Todd Wright and Friends from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For information or reservations, call (828) 295-7661.
WinterPaws dog show
WinterFest’s closing event is the annual WinterPaws Dog Show on Sunday. Bring your furry friend to the Blowing Rock School’s gymnasium and compete in a number of categories, such as oldest dog, youngest dog, “looks most like owner.” Registration begins at 1 p.m., and the dog show begins at 1:30 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Watauga Humane Society.
A number of shops and boutiques in downtown Blowing Rock and at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway have special “Shop ’til You Drop” bargains during the four days of WinterFest.
For more information on WinterFest, call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851.