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Do a little dance – a snow dance for WinterFest

We are less than two weeks away from our annual WinterFest celebration, to be held over the President’s Day weekend, Feb. 17-20.

While WinterFest will go on, some of the activities may be modified, due to weather conditions. For many of the activities, we could use a bit more snow. Seeing brown ground this time of year is a little unusual, since Pagosa has seen a lot of snow the past couple of years.

Soup for the Soul, on Thursday, Feb. 17, does not need snow and the colder outside the better for this annual Hospice of Mercy fund-raiser. The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center. Soups, breads and desserts donated by many of Pagosa’s fine restaurants, along with a cash bar, will make up the fantastic fare. There will be a silent auction and live music. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce for $25 per person.

Various Nordic Club activities will take place all weekend long. The festivities begin Friday, Feb. 18, with the Sunset/Moonrise Ski Social. There will be chile, soups, s’mores and lots of cross country fun. Go to Pagosanordic.com for the location of the social. Registration for the weekend events will also be held at the social. There will be kids’ races at the elementary school on Friday. On Saturday, Feb. 19, there will be sprint races in citizens’ and competitive classes in classic and skate skiing. There will also be relay races combining classic and skate skiing. Grab your favorite Nordic partner and participate in this fun relay race. In addition to the relay and sprint races, there will be a mock biathlon with air soft guns provided. Remember that the sprint race times will be used in combination with the distance race times on Sunday for total points to determine the final awards. On Sunday, Feb. 19, there will be an awards party and ceremony at Pagosa Brewing Company.

Also scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 19, are the Anything Goes Downhill Sled Race and the Snow Sculpting Contest. We need a bit more snow for these events to occur. If more snow does not come, check The SUN, fliers and the Chamber website for alternative festivities. The downhill sled race is expected to take place on Reservoir Hill and the Snow Sculpting Contest will take place at the Visitor Center.

On Saturday night, the Rotary Follies return to Liberty Theatre for a night of good humor and a roasting of Pagosa Springs with all our nuances and quirks. There will be two performances: 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. There will be snacks available, as well as a cash bar. Tickets are $15 each or $25 per couple in advance and $20 each and $30 per couple the day of the show. Tickets are available at the Chamber, Moonlight Books, Pagosa Brewing, Bank of Colorado, and American Family Insurance.

WinterFest activities conclude with the second annual Pagosa Penguin Plunge beginning at noon Sunday, Feb. 20. Brave plungers will float over “the Wave” in the frigid San Juan River, all for the purpose of raising money for the nonprofits of their choice. Spectators are invited to view the antics from the RiverWalk, where great photos and videos can be taken. There will also be hot drinks for purchase, provided by the Venture Club. If you have not selected a plunger for your organization, there is still time to garner sponsorship dollars. Entry forms are due at the Chamber on Friday, Feb. 18. For more information or to pick up a sponsorship form, stop by the Chamber or call 264-2360. Currently we have people plunging for the Chamber, Victim’s Assistance, the Youth Center, Relay for Life, the Humane Society, Americana Project and Head Start. Get your group involved in these crazy antics. Great swag, including T-shirts, will be given out.

We hope we are blessed with a little more snow to aid in all our President’s Day weekend activities. Stay tuned to make sure that all events remain on the schedule.

Starting Your Business

In a downturn economy, entrepreneurs come out of the woodwork with new businesses and ideas. The Chamber and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) want your business to succeed and are hosting a Starting Your Business seminar on Thursday, Feb. 17.

The half-day seminar will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at approximately 1 p.m. The session will be held in the Chamber board room. A variety of professional guest speakers will aid you in your endeavor to open a business in Pagosa. We will cover business plans and guidelines to run your business, and tips on marketing, accounting, banking, licenses and building. There will be refreshments provided all day, along with a tremendous amount of information to help you with your business. This class is great for starting a business or helping businesses in operation less than six months. The class is $20 for Chamber members and $25 for nonmembers. To register, call the Chamber of Commerce at 264-2360.

Tourism Conference

Right on the heels of the Starting Your Business Seminar will be a full-day Tourism Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Hosted by the TTC, this conference encourages all tourism-related business owners to attend. There will be targeted conference sessions all day long and you can pick and choose which ones you want to attend. There will be vendor booths, a business expo and state tourism experts on-site. There will be sessions on tourism marketing, tourism as a business, what tourists are looking for, the difference and similarities between the various community organizations, such as TTC, the Chamber and Economic Development (CDC), using Trip Advisor to plan a trip and how customers use the site, and even about events and how you can co-op or plan an event. Businesses will also have information on how they can take advantage of online and print advertising options.

Breakfast and lunch items will be available for sale and the day will end with a reception sponsored by the TTC, Chamber, CDC and Lodging Association. The whole day is offered free to the business owners, including the concluding reception. This is a perfect time to see how your business can take advantage of all the tourism opportunities out there. Leverage your marketing, access free portals like Trip Advisor, and find out how you might expose your business to the tourism industry.

More information about the event can be obtained by accessing the Chamber site at www.pagosaspringschamber.com or by contacting TTC Director Jennie Green at sales@visitpagosa.com.

Heartbeat Ball

“And the Beat Goes On” will be heard throughout the night as the first Heartbeat Ball to support the Pagosa Medical Center is held Saturday, Feb. 12. The event will be held at the Pagosa Lodge, with the festivities beginning at 7 p.m. This dressy event will feature food from community restaurants, a cash bar and lots of items for a silent and live auction. The whole of the facility will be used, and attendees can wander throughout the hotel looking at items to bid on. Tickets are available at most banks, as well as the hospital for $25 per person in advance and $30 at the door. Enjoy a great evening out for Valentine’s Day while supporting a much-needed facility in our community. Questions can be directed to Tari Woods at 731-8877.

Casino Night

“Laissez les bon temps rouler” — “Let the good times roll” — Mardi Gras Ball is the theme of this year’s Rotary Casino night on Saturday, Feb. 26. The event will be held at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts building from 6 to 10 p.m. There will be play money included in your ticket purchase of $35 per person, as well as musical entertainment, dancing and live and silent auctions. Mock gaming includes blackjack, craps, Texas Hold’em and poker. Proceeds from this event are used to help fund school scholarships, teacher mini grants and a plethora of community nonprofit organizations. You can purchase your tickets at The Pagosa SUN downtown, at Exit Realty on the west side of town or from any Rotary Club member. This event is one of Rotary’s big fund-raisers for the year. Enjoy a great time while giving back to the community.

Membership

The Chamber’s renewals continue in 2011 at a rapid pace. This week, we welcome back Wilson, Rea, Beckel and Associates, CPAs; Scott Strategic Investments with Bob Scott; Region 9 Economic Development with Ed Morlan; Made in Colorado Shoppe; Ensignal, Pagosa’s Verizon Wireless retailer; Pagosa Springs Inn and Suites; Professional Insurance Resources with Pam Slovak-Howard; Alpine Portable Toilets and Septic; Pagosa Office and Storage; Moore Chiropractic; the San Juan Outdoor Club; and, from outside the area, we welcome our friends down at Wines of the San Juans back to the Pagosa Chamber. Friends of the Chamber Bob and Carole Howard also renew this week.

Let’s think snow everyone, and keep your eye out for the WinterFest activities as we get closer to the event weekend. Don’t forget our first SunDowner of the year on Feb. 23. It is being held at the perfect location, as Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day are upon us — the Costume Pit Stop. This will be a fun and unique SunDowner and a great way to start networking for the new year.