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A weekend of fun at WinterFest

With snow having arrived just in the nick of time, WinterFest Weekend has an activity for everyone: young or old, spectator or athlete.

The weekend kicks off with the Hospice of Mercy Soup for the Soul dinner. The event will be held at the Ross Aragon Community Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. today, Thursday, Feb. 16. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce and the Hospice of Mercy offices for $25 per ticket.

On Friday, Feb. 17, the Nordic Club will host cross-country races and activities for kids at the elementary school. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with elementary age racers beginning at 9 a.m. and junior high racers starting at 9:30. At 10 a.m. there will be awards and snacks for the kids. At noon, the adult course for the weekend Nordic Races will be open for inspection at the Kuhn Race, eight miles north of U.S. 160 on Piedra Road. Look for the red barn on Roush Drive.

Saturday, Feb. 18, is full of activities. The Nordic Club is at it again, with classic and skate ski races, a mock paint biathlon and relay races at the Kuhn Ranch, where the event was held in 2011. These races are fun, challenging and for skiers of all levels. The Nordic events begin at 8 a.m. with registration. At 9 a.m. the sprint races begin, at 10 the relay races begin, and at 11 the mock biathlon races begin, sponsored by Eagle Mountain Mercantile. The Pagosa Nordic Club will provide Red Ryder BB guns and practice is permissible between races in the morning.

Also on Saturday, and beginning at 9 a.m., the snow sculpting contest will be held. The location is still expected to be at the Visitor Center area along the river. There will be prizes for the top three sculptures and the entry fee is only $5. You can enhance your creation with natural products coloring or clothing and, remember, no power tools, just sculpting tools like trowels, bowls and shovels or spades. The snow sculpting continues until noon.

Then, beginning at noon, grab your snowshoes and head over to the Pagosa Springs Golf Course for the Snowman Stomp Snowshoe Romp competition. The fun races for kids start at noon with the adult 1.5 mile showshoe loop beginning at 12:15 p.m. Snowshoe rentals for the race can be obtained at Summit Ski & Sport and Alpen Haus Ski Center for only $10, if you don’t have your own. The entry fee for the adult race is also only $5. If you register by Friday, you will be guaranteed a goodie bag.

At 2 p.m., the fast-paced activities move to Reservoir Hill where the Anything Goes Downhill Sled Race will take place. The course is fast and furious and, remember, speed is key but so is safety. All homemade sleds will be required to have slowing or stopping capability. All sleds must be homemade to be entered. The sleds will have three runs, with the fastest average time winning. There will be prizes for best crash and most creative, and in other fun categories. The entry fee for the sled race is $10.

The WinterFest festivities continue on into the night Feb. 18 with singer/songwriter Tom Irwin in concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Pagosa Lodge, presented by San Juan River Music. Tom will be playing many songs off his new album, “Sagamon.” Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, the penguins, or rather, people take to the San Juan River with the hilarious Pagosa Penguin Plunge, sponsored by Healing Waters Resort & Spa. Individuals raise money, then plunge into the river for their favorite charity. The average water temperature is a “balmy” 33 degrees, with participants wading into the river at the Visitor Center then floating for a while before plunging over Davey’s Wave. Some plungers will be in costume, others just trying not to freeze – but there is a fantastic opportunity to get some great video footage and stills of this crazy event in Pagosa.

For those spectating and trying to stay warm, there will be the inaugural “Hot Toddy for the Body” contest. Bartenders in both professional and amateur categories will vie for the best hot drink. Registration forms are still available. Spectators can taste-test the toddies for only $5 for three tastings — just enough to keep warm. The tasting will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — or until we run out of samples. The Toddy contest will take place along the Riverwalk, which is also the spectator area for the Plunge.

You can also start Sunday morning off with more Nordic races, with registration beginning at 8 a.m., at the Kuhn Ranch The classic and skate ski distance races will be held on this day. The awards ceremony will be held at Pagosa Brewing Co. on North Pagosa Boulevard at 1 p.m., after the Penguin Plunge. For more information about the Nordic race events to be held throughout WinterFest, go to www.pagosanordic.com.

We would like to thank Wells Fargo Bank and The Pagosa Springs SUN for their sponsorship of the various events throughout the weekend. You can still obtain of the registration forms online at the Chamber website at www.pagosaspringschamber.com. Download the form, fill it out and get it back to the Chamber.

For more information about any of the events, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 264-2360. With fresh snow ... let’s celebrate winter!

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