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By Mary Jo Coulehan
Special to The PREVIEW
This year’s WinterFest festivities kick off with the inaugural WinterFest Chilly Bowl contest on Thursday, Feb. 7, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Ross Aragon Community Center.
There will be competitions for red, green, and vegetarian chili, posole, “other” and cornbread. There is a $5 fee for each entry. Chili entries from some of Pagosa’s best-known restaurants, including Alley House, Nello’s, Farrago’s, Kip’s and Pagosa Baking, chefs and just plain good cooks have been registered.
Attendees will be able to vote on the best overall chili and judges will select the best chili in each category, as well as the best cornbread. There will be cash prizes in each category and for the overall winner.
During the Chilly Bowl event there will be a live concert with Caitlin Cannon + the Artillery, from Durango. This dynamic trio will also be playing at the Outlaw Snowdown event. The Chilly Bowl will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 6:30. There will be a cash bar. Tickets for the Chilly Bowl are $25 and this includes unlimited chili tasting, a collectible bowl, the concert and a cash bar. Chilly Bowl profits will be donated to local food banks.
Also on the night of Feb. 7, card players can enter the Cabin Fever Cribbage Tournament. There are a limited number of seats, so enter now. The entry fee is $10 and if you wish to play and partake of the Chilly Bowl, tickets are $30 for the combo. Tickets can be purchased online or are available at the Chamber of Commerce and the Ross Aragon Community Center. Registration for the Cribbage Tournament is at the Chamber or the night of the event. Help start this annual event in style and help out the local food banks.
There will be two days of winter races on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9-10. The golf course will be the site for Nordic races and the Snowman Stomp Showshoe Romp.
Saturday activities start with distance races, including skate ski and classic ski and kids’ races. The Snowshoe Romp begins at 11 a.m. Snowshoe races continue for fast and slow snowshoers, with the adult loop being 1.5 miles. Nordic racers can participate in the 5km race at 10 a.m. then snowshoe at 11:15. Registration forms for the Snowman Stomp are available ,online at www.pagosaspringschamber.com and it is hosted by Step Outdoors. The Eagle Mountain Red Ryder BB gun biathlon will be held Sunday, Feb. 10, at the golf course. These events are fun to participate in and exciting to watch. Visit www.pagosanordic.com for more information about the Nordic activities.
If cross-country skiing isn’t your thing, bring the family to the Visitor Center and participate in the annual Snow Sculpting Contest on Saturday, Feb. 9. Previous sculptures included wildly-decorated snowmen, SpongeBob SquarePants, dragons, skiers, turtles, igloos and numerous other creations. This is a wonderful activity for the family, especially if you have never really experienced the snow and just want to get out and play. You can bring your own tools, and some tools will be provided. The Snow Sculpting Contest begins at 10 a.m. Registration forms are available at the Chamber and online at www.pagosaspringschamber.com.
At 2 p.m., head to Reservoir Hill to participate in or watch the entertaining “Anything Goes Downhill Sled Race.” The twist to this race is that all sleds must be modified. You can use sledding equipment such as skis, tubes and snowboards, but each entry must be modified to create a unique sled. No “stand-alone” sleds or tubes will be allowed in the race, which begins at 2:30. Great fun will be had and prizes will be awarded. Enter your sculpture or sled registration form now by downloading the form from the Chamber website or pick up an application at the office.
On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, the first annual Outlaw Snowdown concert will take place in the athletic field in Town Park. This year’s performers will include Shooter Jennings and other acts such as Mickey and the Motorcars and Lydia Loveless. Caitlin Cannon + the Artillery will perform Friday after their Chilly Bowl performance on Thursday, Feb. 7. There will be food, beverages and lots of live, rockin’ music. Tickets are for sale at www.outlawsnowdown.com for weekend packages. Ski by day and howl at the moon by night!
The weekend festivities culminate with the fourth annual Penguin Plunge benefitting various nonprofits in the community on Sunday, Feb. 10. Crazy and cold plungers will float down a short strip of the San Juan River, over Davey’s Wave, beginning at noon. Don’t worry if you’re not plunging; you can enjoy the Hot Toddy for the Body contest held along the Riverwalk beginning at 11 a.m. Toddy participants can purchase tasting tickets, stay warm and watch the festivities while the plungers take to 30 degree waters. If you would like to enter an award-winning hot beverage, registration forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce or online at the Chamber’s website. Which restaurant or individual can produce the best-tasting hot toddy? Special prizes will be awarded through a People’s Choice system. For more information on any of the activities occurring during the WinterFest Weekend, Feb. 7-10, contact the Chamber. Don’t miss out on the fun, whether you are a spectator or a participant.