We here in the High Country are among the lucky few inhabitants of the Southeast who enjoy a proper winter. Folks in Charlotte and Atlanta might see a flake or two each year, only to have it melt as soon as it hits the ground.
To share our good fortune with folks off the mountain, the town of Blowing Rock holds a giant celebration each year called WinterFest. This four-day event, presented by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, features the Polar Plunge at Chetola Lake, WinterFeast, an ice carving competition, Chilly Chili Cook-Off, Little Miss WinterFest Pageant and much more.
The next WinterFest will be held in Blowing Rock on Jan. 28-31, 2016, and tickets to all of the events are already selling at a rapid pace.
Here are some of the highlights of WinterFest 2016:
From Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 28-31, the annual High Country Small Plate Crawl will be held in conjunction with WinterFest 2106. Dozens of independently owned restaurants in the High Country will create small plate menus, priced from $3 to $8, featuring their unique cuisine and chefs’ imaginations. Participating restaurants are in Blowing Rock, Boone and Valle Crucis. For more information, visit www.platecrawl.com.
Blowing Rock merchants will feature a multitude of sales and specials as part of WinterFest’s Shop Til You Drop event. Didn’t get one or two items you were hoping for this past Christmas? Chances are you’ll find it in Blowing Rock.
Thursday, Jan. 28
WinterFeast will take place with three seatings at Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28. This is your chance to sample the best that the chefs of Blowing Rock restaurants have to offer. Participating restaurants include Timberlake’s Resturant, Canyons, the Blowing Rock Ale House, Roots Restaurant, Chestnut Grille at the Green Park Inn, The Table at Crestwood, Bald Guy Brew, Bistro Roca, Restaurant G at Gideon Ridge, the New Public House, Stick Boy Bread Company, Rowland’s Restaurant at Westglow, Six Pence Pub and Woodland’s Barbecue. Advance tickets are $27 and $32.
Twigs Restaurant and Bar will host a WinterFeast After Party from 8:30 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Jan. 28. Enjoy drink specials and shake your tail feathers to the groovy sounds of the Jacob Johnson Band. For more information, call Twigs at (828) 295-5050.
Friday, Jan. 29
WinterFest’s annual WinterFashion Show will take place at the Meadowbrook Inn beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 29. The event will include a fashion show with styles provided by Doncaster, Monkees, TazMaRaz, Almost Rodeo Drive, Celeste’s, J.W. Tweeds, Take Heart, Sister Act and Sunset Tees and Hattery. The fashion show is followed by a “winter warming” lunch. Tickets are $27 per person. For more information, call (828) 295-7851.
Weather permitting, the WinterFest Bonfire will be held from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Blowing Rock Memorial Park on Friday and Saturday. Make your own toasted marshmallow or go all out by making s’mores. All supplies will be provided. The event is presented by Blowing Rock Boy Scout Troop 101 and will feature live music. The event will not take place in high wind, rain or extreme cold.
The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum will present “Cork and Canvas” at the museum beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Led by an art instructor, you get to paint in a group setting, while tasting a selection of fine wine and hors d’oeuvres. All materials, including paint, canvas and wine, are provided. The cost is $30 for BRAHM members and $40 for nonmembers and reservations are recommended as seating is limited. For more information, call BRAHM at (828) 295-9099.
Appalachian Ski Mountain will host WinterFest Family Night from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday. 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 also offered. Reservations are suggested. For more information, call (828) 295-9311.
Saturday, Jan. 30
The WinterFest Silent Auction and Raffle will be held at the Blowing Rock School cafeteria from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The event includes hundreds of items, including gift packages, vacation packages, gift baskets, housewares, restaurant packages, cabin rentals, ASU game tickets and more. The raffle and silent auction benefit Mountain Alliance, a local nonprofit that takes teenagers on outdoor adventures.
The town of Blowing Rock will offer free WinterFest hayrides from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, departing from the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.
The annual Polar Plunge at Chetola Resort is one of the most popular events during WinterFest. Watch as brave, yet foolhardy souls, jump into the frigid waters of Chetola Lake. Some years, they have to cut through the ice with chain saws to make a hole for the leapers. The event starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday and is free.
The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum is offering free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday during WinterFest. Come in, warm up and enjoy some wonderful art at BRAHM. The event includes winter crafts for kids from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation Department, located behind Memorial Park, is offering free kids activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday during WinterFest. Enjoy crafts and games in a safe, family oriented environment.
WinterFest’s Chilly Chili Cookoff is where chili lovers come to warm up from the inside out. The event takes place at the Blowing Rock School gymnasium from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Categories include Freestyle (amateur), Restaurant and Business, with prizes for the top finishers. Admission is $7 per person. Those wanting to enter the competition should call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851.
Artisan Ice Sculptures has joined forces with WinterFest this year to bring to Blowing Rock the Southeast Regional Invitational Ice Carving Competition. The event will take place at Memorial Park from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The annual Little Miss WinterFest Pageant takes place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Meadowbrook Inn. All contestants will receive a tiara, and winners will be awarded a satin monogrammed banner and crown. The competition will be based on winter wear, so no special apparel is necessary. The cost is $5 to enter. For more information, call (828) 295-4300.
At 3 p.m. on Saturday, the very first WinterFest Snowflake Parade will take place in downtown Blowing Rock. The parade will feature WinterFest mascots Crystal and Chilly, children with homemade snowflakes, animals and more. For more information, call (828) 295-7851.
WinterFest’s Wine Tasting and Charity Auction will be held at the Green Park Inn from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The tasting begins at 2 p.m. and the auction begins at 4 p.m. The tasting features wines from all over the world and the auction features special wines and wine-related merchandise. For more information, call (828) 414-9230.
Firewalk Productions will present the first WinterFest Firewalk from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Blowing Rock Memorial Park. Come see daring Dave Albin walk barefoot over hot coals and speak of overcoming your fears. If the wind is too high for hot coals, Albin will be walking over a bed of broken glass. The demonstration is free.
For more information, or tickets to any of the Blowing Rock WinterFest 2016 events, call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at (828) 295-7851.