The first Blowing Rock WinterFest was presented in 1998, created to bring celebration to a sleepy season. More than two decades later, the festival continues with a refresh of past events and a reprise of the newest ones.  At the 2020 edition of Blowing Rock WinterFest on Thursday, January 23 through Sunday, January 26, everyone is again encouraged: don’t hibernate; celebrate!

The newest events include the K9 Keg Pull and the Snow Making Demonstration, which both debuted in 2019. The first K9 Keg Pull was an instant hit, and this year’s event will be relocated to a venue with greater crowd capacity to accommodate anticipated attendance. Exciting and whimsical, the family-friendly event will be set up along Park Avenue on Saturday, January 25. The street will be closed to traffic for the Pull. You can register your pup to compete! The Snow Making Demonstration returns on Saturday as well, hosted by Brad Panovich, Chief Meteorologist at WCNC Charlotte, in Memorial Park on Main Street. He will explain the science of snow with the assistance of a simple snow-making rig. Plus, he’s always happy to answer questions about weather, so stop by to watch the snow and say hello!

“Saturday’s list of events is full of crowd favorites- from Ice Carving to the K9 Keg Pull there is plenty to enjoy,” says Suzy Barker, festival coordinator. “Having Park Avenue closed to traffic will allow for safe and easy flow between Memorial Park and the events along the street.”

The 2020 Winterfest will welcome the return of an older event, as well: the Friday Night Concert! Four local acts will take the stage: Handlebar Betty, Ben Parker, The Stewarts, and Roscoe Rose. The concert also marks the Grand Re-opening of the auditorium at Blowing Rock School, which has seen significant renovations.

A few staple events are getting a refresh for the new decade. Saturday’s Chili Challenge will see the return of a judges panel, which will decide who gets the coveted trophy. Attendees are still invited to try all the chilis and pick their favorite!

“The Rotary Chili Challenge will have two winners this year, People’s Choice and Celebrity Judges pick. This change is sure to heat up the challenge,” says Suzy.

The WinterFest Beer Garden will move to be adjacent to the relocated K9 Keg Pull, hosting local breweries on the lawn at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. This brings one more event even closer to downtown shopping & dining. The Winter Paws Dog Show welcomes a new coordinating host, local Girl Scout Troop 02738, and new benefitting charity, Partners Canines. Bring your pet to compete or enjoy the fun from the audience.

There’s so much more packed into the weekend that you won’t want to miss. Take a chilly dip at the Polar Bear Plunge, or watch the jumpers from beside the firepit if that’s more your speed. John Carter of WBTV Charlotte returns as emcee, and the participant costumes are sure to delight. Sample local delicacies at WinterFeast (seats already nearly sold-out), view the latest winter and spring looks at the WinterFashion Show, help raise funds for charity at the Wine Tasting & Auction, take a hayride through Blowing Rock, and enjoy glittering sculptures at the Ice Carving Demonstrations and the Ice Stroll.

Lots of festival activities are free, some are ticketed. For a full and expandable schedule of events, tickets, lodging packages, and participation information, go to blowingrockwinterfest.com. Tickets and info are also available by calling 828-295-7851.

Blowing Rock is accessible from anywhere in the region, less than two hours from Charlotte and Greensboro, three hours from Knoxville and Raleigh, and five hours from Atlanta and Charleston. A wide range of accommodations is available; visit blowingrock.com/accommodations for details.

WinterFest, which has been named a AAA “Top Pick” and a Top 20 Event by Southeastern Tourism Society, is organized by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce and presented by Hendrick Luxury Group.