WinterFest weekend is here


By Mary Jo Coulehan | Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

With snow having blanketed Pagosa Springs this past week, the conditions are excellent for an active WinterFest weekend Jan. 20-22. With over 20 hot air balloon pilots coming to Pagosa Springs, the skies on the west side of town will be extremely colorful on Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

Remember that the balloon launches and flights are weather contingent, so if there is snow, rain or winds, the balloons will not be able to fly. However, the weather outlook looks promising, so head to areas around North Pagosa Boulevard, Park Avenue, Vista and the like to watch the balloons up close starting between 7:30 and 8 a.m. 

On Saturday, Jan. 21, the day will be filled with activities. From 10 a.m. to late afternoon, the third annual Skijoring will take place at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds. Skilled horseback riders and skiers or boarders will take to a course and vie for winning honors over a two-day period. There will be food, beverages, vendors and, of course, all of the fast-paced activity for spectators to view and cheer on their favorite teams. 

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, also hosted by Skis and Saddles, will be the Skijor WinterFest concert with Float Like a Buffalo. Tickets are only $15 for the concert, $15 for a full weekend skijor pass or $10 per day and can be purchased in advance from the website, Skijoring continues on Sunday at the Fairgrounds again starting at 10 a.m. 

Kicking off the activities in the downtown area on Saturday is the annual Barkus Parade with registration beginning at 10:30 a.m. in Town Park and the parade starting at 11 a.m. Benefiting Rugby’s Rescue, parade entrants can dress themselves and their pets up and take the walk along the Riverwalk and downtown area. For a small donation, you can also get a coupon for a cup of delicious gumbo. There will be prizes for costuming and creativity. Don’t miss the fun as a participant or a spectator while benefiting a worthwhile organization. 

On Saturday afternoon, there will be the popular Penguin Plunge, where nonprofit volunteers float in the frigid San Juan River raising money for their favorite nonprofit organization. Registration begins at noon and the event begins at 1 p.m. Spectators can line up along the Riverwalk across from the Visitor Center to watch the antics. You can also find an organization to pledge to by contacting the Chamber to see which organizations are scheduled to plunge. 

Following the Plunge, walk the short distance to Reservoir Hill and watch the Sledz on Rez event hosted by Build Pagosa. “Build it, Ride it, Wreck it” is the theme of this engaging event. Fast-paced yet filled with a few crashes, everyone cheers for these homemade, creative sleds. Registration and pre-race activities begin at 1:30 p.m. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. Build your sled now and enter to win one of the many prizes offered. 

On Saturday and Sunday, the Pagosa Nordic Club will host two events. The BB Gun Biathlon will take place on Saturday in Yamaguchi Park beginning at 10 a.m. with a 16k competitive race followed by a 4k citizen’s race at 10:45 a.m. and a kids’ race at 11:45 a.m. Racers shoot targets between skiing laps with BB guns that are provided. There is also an award for the best costume. 

On Sunday, the Nordic Club will provide a Learn to Cross-Country Ski morning for “never-evers,” beginners and intermediate skiers at Cloman Park. This event is very popular and space is limited; therefore, registration is encouraged by visiting Show up to learn by 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 22. 

WinterFest weekend is fun-filled and gets us locals out there participating and appreciating this wonderful winter season. Embrace the snow and cold, bundle up the kids and enjoy some winter activities. To get the best overview and connect to all the pertinent websites, visit Click on the Penguin WinterFest graphic under Community and Chamber News.