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Presidents Day Weekend heralds WinterFest activities

SUN Columnist

With snow on the ground and the mountains looking like it really is winter, organizations are gearing up for WinterFest activities to be held Feb. 14-16.

The festivities kick off on Valentine’s Day with the second annual Chilly Bowl celebrating all kinds of chili. The categories to enter your chili are: green, red, vegetarian, posole and “other,” which includes soups and stews.

To complement the chili, there will also be a cornbread category. There will be cash prizes for each category and the coveted People’s Choice winner. Last year, there were over 20 chilies to taste submitted by “professionals” and amateurs. Entry forms are due by Wednesday, Feb. 12, and may be obtained online or at the Chamber.

This year, admission to the Chilly Bowl again includes a complimentary chili bowl and all the chili and cornbread you can taste.

However, this year’s admission of $20 will also allow you to dance the night away to one of the region’s best bands, Tim Sullivan and Narrow Gauge, or gain admittance to the Cabin Fever Cribbage Tournament.

What a great way to treat your sweetheart to an evening out or gather a group of friends and fill up the dance floor. Seats for the cribbage tournament are filling up fast as players from around the region are signing up and there are a limited number of playing spaces.

Tickets are available online at www.pagosaspringschamber.com or at the Chamber, or call the Chamber to reserve your cribbage seat. A cash bar will also be available.

Nordic events

On both Saturday and Sunday, the Pagosa Nordic Club (PNC) will have an array of events for all Nordic ski levels.

Come out on Saturday, Feb. 15, for the Red Ryder BB Gun Biathlon, fun relay and fast-paced sprint races.

There are three opportunities to shoot at targets with BB guns in between X-C ski laps at the biathlon (a great opportunity to get familiar with a biathlon). Relay races include a 1 km classic ski leg and a 1 km skate ski leg with your partner. Sprint races are short and fast. Races start at 9 a.m. and the location for this event will be announced when snow conditions are better determined. Check www.pagosanordic.com for details.

On Sunday, Feb. 16, the more seasoned Nordic skier can compete in the Plumtaw Ultra 30 km/60 km freestyle Nordic race. The course is an out and back route on Plumtaw Road that is accessible from Fourmile Road. This is a self-supported race with limited aid on the course. Cutoff times will be in place for the 60 km racers who will need to pass the 17.3 km station in less than two hours and the 33.3 km turnaround station in less than four hours. In case of low snow by race day, plan B is to hold the race at Alberta Park at Wolf Creek Ski Area — but we think with the latest snowfall plan A is in place. The 30 km race is $15 for PNC members, $20 for non-members. The 60 km race is $25 for PNC members, $30 for non-members.

All racers receive prizes. This race will really test the Nordic athlete.

Saturday activities on Reservoir Hill

After the early morning Nordic races, come to Reservoir Hill at 2 p.m. for the annual Anything Goes Downhill Sled Race.

Homemade sled concoctions will fly — and crash — down the hill. Don’t be surprised to see a canoe, a satellite dish, wagon or other creative “sled” fly down Reservoir Hill as entrants compete for the fastest time, best decorated sled or best crash.

This is definitely a spectator event, as the crowd cheers on the participants. However, for the brave at heart, entry forms for the race are available online or at the Chamber. There is a fee for entering the race. The Reservoir Hill sledding course will be closed to the public during this race and the Rail Jam.

The inaugural Snowboard Rail Jam will also be held on Reservoir Hill beginning at about 4 p.m. — after the Sled Race. The race is the efforts of the Skaters Coalition and proceeds from the event will benefit phase two of the Skate Park. There is a fee of $15 to enter the race and $5 to partake of the food, cash bar and an up-close view of the boarders.

Hot air balloons are back

After a hiatus of about seven years, the hot air balloons are back as part of the WinterFest activities. They will take to the skies Saturday morning, Feb. 15, from the downtown area and on Sunday morning from the west side of town. Both mass ascensions should take place at approximately 8 a.m. Both pilot meetings will take place at the Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Center building at 7 a.m.

If you are interested in crewing for a balloonist, please contact Stacy Kirby at the Chamber and if crews are needed, she will contact you.

The photographic opportunities for a winter balloon ascension are stunning with the snow-capped mountains in the background and the colorful balloons in the foreground. Dress warmly and head out to take some pictures, which we have not had the opportunity to do for quite some years.

Penguin Plunge

The WinterFest activities conclude with the fifth annual Penguin Plunge on Sunday, Feb. 16, at noon. Stout-hearted volunteers will brave the approximately 30-degree water temperature of the San Juan River in order to raise funds for their favorite nonprofit agency.

Several organizations or efforts represented this year are: Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center, GECKO, John Paul II Catholic Church Food Bank, the Youth Center, Bucks for Bikes and the Humane Society.

If you are plunging for an organization, please let us know so that we can publicize your efforts. Plunge forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce. Spectators are encouraged to view the antics from the Riverwalk. The Chamber parking lot will be blocked off to accommodate our plungers and our emergency services: Swift Water Rescue and the EMTs — not that we expect any accidents, but always better to be safe than sorry.

There will be music to enjoy prior to and during the plunge to get your blood pumping. Come out and enjoy the festivities, then take these pictures home to your friends to prove the great time that everyone had while in Pagosa.

For more information about the events, visit the Chamber’s website at www.pagosaspringschamber.com or give us a call at 264-2360.

Business updates

We have to tout the outdoor activities this week because we are so excited about the snow and the upcoming WinterFest activities, but let’s not forget our business side to the Chamber.

We are planning two educational events this month with the return of our Business Bites luncheons and a special educational class about better utilizing QuickBooks. We will announce the definite date and location in next week’s article, but if you want to hone your QuickBooks skills or get a better introduction, then plan to attend this month’s class.

Our monthly Maximizing Your Membership class will also be held on Monday, Feb. 24, at the Chamber. Find out how you can better utilize your membership benefits by attending this free class. which also includes a free lunch. Please call the Chamber to reserve your space.

We have three new members to welcome to the Chamber membership this month: Skip’s Coffee News, JP Culinary Concepts and Gandy Dancer Inn B&B.

Our renewals this week include the Joann Laird Realty Group, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, Our Savior Lutheran Church and School, R U Feelin’ Crafty, San Juan Veterinary Hospital, United Way and, Jerry LaQuey as an individual associate.

This story was posted on February 6, 2014.