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Winter Fun Abounds at Blowing Rock’s WinterFest

Diving into a pool of water was a part of last year’s Polar Plunge.

Blowing RockThe tradition of fun-filled festivities for the 23rd annual Blowing Rock WinterFest will continue again this year.   Of course, changes have been made to comply with government regulations. It is an easy two-hour drive from Asheville to Blowing Rock with many inns offering reasonably priced overnight packages.  This year, the government demands plenty of distancing and space between festival participants.  The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce has found some exciting replacement activities for this year’s WinterFest from January 28th-January 31st to keep within the law. 

COVID-19 Changes

This year the Chamber of Commerce decided to cancel the Polar Bear Plunge.  This was when daring individuals clad in extraordinary costumes— like Hawaiian hulas— jump from a diving board into a pool of water, and the crowd would roar with laughter as they exited into the freezing air. 

In years past there was a big food emporium tent where guests all convened for individual tastings from local restaurants all under one roof. As this cannot take place, there will be a Restaurant Crawl instead. On Thursday night, the 28th, after Shopping ’til You Drop at the many quaint boutiques on Main Street in Blowing Rock, a Restaurant Crawl will run from 5 pm to 10 pm.   You can sit down, relax and have a delicious appetizer or main course at one of the participating restaurants, then perhaps move on for another course at a different restaurant. The Speckled Trout & Bottle Shop will offer an appetizer sample plate and have live music from 6 to 8 pm. Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort will serve Ahi Tuna Nachos—Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna, Lightly Seared, with Asian Kale Slaw, Wasabi Aioli, Eel Sauce, and Crispy Wontons all for $12. For lighter fare, The Hellbender Bed & Beverage is offering burgers, wings, chili taco salad, fried chicken chopped salad, grain salad and all entrees with a glass of draft beer or house wine. A score of restaurants are planning to participate in the Crawl, and will undoubtedly roll out the red carpets to serve something special that evening.

Fun For Everyone

Then, on Friday night January 29, there will be an Ice Stroll on Main Street in Blowing Rock, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. A dozen amazing ice sculptures by master artisans will be on display in front of businesses in town. You can stroll at your leisure to see these incredible works of art—before they melt.  After that, you may be tempted to go stop by the Chetola Resort to see the wonderful spectacle of the Festival of Lights, then go to the fire pit beside Chetola Lake to warm up and relax. There will be a cash bar with winter drink specials, gourmet s’mores packets ($5 each) and entertainment for the whole family, which could include live music, storytelling and giant board games.

On Saturday, the Silent Auction & Raffle may attract you to find a much sought-after item. Bidding will open up virtually on Friday, January, 22nd, and conclude on Saturday, January 30th at 4 pm during WinterFest. The in-person portion of the auction will be from 10 am – 4 pm on Saturday,  January 30th at the American Legion Hall in downtown Blowing Rock.  You will be able to find items ranging from lodging at area hotels and inns, spa day packages, packages to area parks, massage and wellness certificates, outdoor adventures, fly fishing lessons, artwork by local artists, gift certificates to area restaurants, and much more to bid on in the silent auction.  In addition, there will be incredible raffle baskets and prizes. Last year there was more than $25,000 worth of items from over 200 businesses.  All proceeds support Mountain Alliance and programs for local teenagers.

This year the Rotary Charity Chili Challenge is taking place all over town for lunch from 11:30 am – 2 pm.  Participating restaurants will be serving their special chili on Saturday, January 30th and donating 100% of the proceeds to local nonprofits! For instance,  Timberlake’s Restaurant will have a Smoked Brisket Chili, where every purchase goes to support High Country Caregivers. A People’s Choice Award will go to the restaurant that raised the most money on January 30; a Judges’ Pick will be awarded to the restaurant by a secret tasting panel of celebrity judges.  

Late in the afternoon on January 29 and 30th from 4 – 6 pm the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum is holding a Cork & Canvas art class.  You can come to paint (with an instructor for $45) your own rendition of “Barn in the Woods” as once inspired by the late Wolf Kahn   Each participant goes home with a finished work of art inspired by this famous painting. All materials, including canvases, paint, brushes, and aprons, are provided. Wine, beer and light snacks are complimentary. There is limited seating for these classes,  and masks are required. Go to: https://www.blowingrockmuseum.org/calendar/kahn-barn-in-the-woods-30  for more information.

To wind up this weekend of winter fun on Sunday, January 31st, The Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop will be featuring a Chef’s Special, which is a three-course meal including a petite salad, cup of soup and entrée with one side. Guest can choose from The Speckled Trout’s menu selections in each category. This will run from 11 am to 9 pm.

Blowing Rock is one of North Carolina’s most scenic villages at an elevation of 3,566 feet, with a year-round population of 1,307 that surges in the summer. The legendary Blowing Rock geological formation—an immense cliff jutting out 4,000 feet above sea level— has been attracting visitors to this corner of North Carolina since 1933.  Dozens of charming inns, large resorts, cabins and vacation rental properties offer enticing packages.  You, your family and friends may want to join in the fun this year, during WinterFest from January 28 – January 31st.   For more information go to blowingrockwinterfest.com

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