Plenty of WinterFest fun on tap for the weekend

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    “Fire and Ice” is a fitting theme for this weekend’s WinterFest event.
    Almost 20 hot-air balloon pilots will be warming up the event with two mass ascensions taking place around 7:45 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday on the west side of town around the Pagosa Lakes Rec Center, the PLPOA Clubhouse and other vacant and plowed areas. The pilot briefing will be at 7 a.m.
    There will be multiple cool happenings over the weekend to enhance the “Ice” portion of the theme.
    We believe the coolest new event lined up for the weekend will be the Skis and Saddles Skijoring taking place both Saturday and Sunday along Hot Springs Boulevard. The event’s website touts: “Skijoring is a trending winter sporting event, as hailed by CNN, where skier meets cowboy and slalom meets rodeo, and the adrenalin pumping excitement of ski racing is [fueled] with horse power! The western heritage of horsemanship and skiing collide in a two day event right here in Pagosa Country.” There will be snowboard runs, 3D runs, junior and beginner runs, a participant/spectator party and more, with the event benefiting the Winter Outdoor Learning Fund.
    Due to this event, Hot Springs Boulevard will be closed from the south side of the post office to Apache Street on Saturday and Sunday. Additional information can be found at www.skisandsaddles.com.
    Dust2 will be hosting its fat tire bike race at Yamaguchi Park Saturday starting at 8:45 a.m. with registration at 8. Fresh crepes and hot beverages will be available.
    Pagosa Nordic Club will host a free Cross-Country Ski Clinic at Cloman Park beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. This is a great opportunity to learn from experienced locals.
    No event is complete without a parade of sorts. No event is complete without dogs. When you combine the two, you get the fifth annual Barkus Parade along the Riverwalk beginning in Town Park at 11 a.m. Saturday. Humans and pets are encouraged to wear costumes and compete for prizes. A donation of $10 or more will earn you some delicious gumbo.
    One of the iciest events of the weekend will be the Penguin Plunge on Saturday. Spectators will congregate alongside the San Juan River to see just what being cooped up for too long during the winter has done to some poor souls who have completely lost their minds. You will witness some seriously insane people plunging into the frigid San Juan River to benefit local charities. If you are feeling a little out of your mind, show up and register at noon before the craziness begins at 1 p.m.
    Have you gotten your sled ready for the Sledz on Rez race? After the plunge, you can head over for serious downhill competition on Reservoir Hill. Registration begins at 2 p.m. and the homemade sled races get underway at 2:30 p.m. While speed is important, the critical element of this race is entertainment.
    DUST2 is also hosting a party at Motel SOCO with the Brooks-I Band and plenty of fun to wrap up the day.
    Following Sunday morning’s mass ascension of hot-air balloons, Pagosa Nordic invites cross-country skiers to participate in the BB Gun Biathlon at Yamaguchi Park at 9:30 a.m. There will be a variety of course challenges for skiers of all ages. This is your opportunity to match your skill with shooting and cross-country skiing.
    Whether you are spectating or participating, you won’t want to miss this weekend’s lineup of WinterFest fun designed to get you outside and shake off the stress and doldrums of winter.
    Terri Lynn Oldham House