WinterFest kicking off Friday with myriad activities

    Photo courtesy Beth Tollefsen

    By Mary Jo Coulehan
    Special to The PREVIEW

    Mother Nature was smiling on Pagosa Springs, depositing a little more snow in preparation for the 2020 WinterFest activities Jan. 24-26. Here’s what’s happening over the weekend.
    On Friday, Jan. 24, the WinterFest Gala takes place at the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association (PLPOA) Clubhouse beginning at 6 p.m. You do not have to be a Chamber member to attend, but you do need to be ready to have a good time. Tim Sullivan will provide the entertainment for an evening of dancing. There will be scrumptious hors d’oeuvres to start the evening followed by an extensive pasta and salad bar, and then some decadent desserts will wrap up the weekend. There will be a cash beer and wine bar, a wine pull, a candy bar and other activities to add to the fun. The evening will also celebrate the community award winners for Citizen, Volunteer, Non-Profit and Small Business of the Year. You can purchase your tickets in advance online at or at the door.
    Saturday, Jan. 25, is chock-full of events for the participant and spectator. The hot air balloon mass ascension will take place on the west side of town both days. Launching of almost 20 balloons will occur around the PLPOA Rec Center, CrossRoad Christian Fellowship Church, the PLPOA Clubhouse and other vacant and plowed areas. The pilot briefing begins at 7 a.m., with the launch starting around 7:45 a.m.
    The Pagosa Nordic Club will host a Cross-Country Ski Clinic at Cloman Park beginning promptly at 10 a.m. The DUST2 Fat Tire Bike Race will be held at Yamaguchi Park with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and the race at 8:45. You can enjoy fresh crepes and hot drinks as you watch the racers or participate in the event.
    The fifth annual Barkus Parade along the Riverwalk begins in Town Park at 11 a.m. Costumes (for humans and pets) are encouraged and a donation of $10 or more will also get you a cup of steaming gumbo. The top three best-dressed pets will win a prize.
    Stay downtown and get your choice seat along the Riverwalk and watch the ever-hilarious Penguin Plunge that supports nonprofit agencies in Pagosa Springs. The hardy plungers will enter the frigid San Juan River in front of the Visitor Center at 1 p.m. with registration beginning at noon at the Chamber. Plungers raise money for their favorite nonprofit agency.
    When the plunge is finished, walk over to Reservoir Hill, where you can watch the Sledz on Rez Sled Race. The Build Pagosa group sponsors this event and homemade sleds race down the hill for a multitude of prizes. Registration for this event begins at 2 p.m., with the races starting at 2:30 p.m.
    The day isn’t finished yet. You can round out the day at Motel SOCO with the DUST2-sponsored party with the Brooks-I Band and drink specials.
    On Sunday, the balloons will again take to the skies on the west side of town at approximately 7:45 a.m. Make sure your camera or phone is charged for some stellar photo opportunities.
    Cross-country skiers will enjoy the BB Gun Biathlon held at Yamaguchi Park at 9:30 a.m. There will be a variety of course challenges for skiers of all ages, including youth. Match your skill with shooting and cross-country skiing — a great event for spectators and participants.
    Occurring on both Saturday and Sunday will be the inaugural Skis and Saddles Skijoring event. This action-packed, fast-paced event will take place from approximately 9:45 a.m. until about 4 p.m. in the vacant lot along Hot Springs Boulevard south of the Bank of the San Juans. There will be activities at certain times for snowboarders, youth and beginners. Watch as expert horse handlers pull skiers along a timed obstacle course.
    Teams should register on Friday evening at the Quality Inn or at 8 a.m. on Saturday, also at the Quality Inn.
    Please note that Hot Springs Boulevard will be closed from the south side of the post office to Apache Street on Saturday and Sunday. Please use U.S. 160 to Hot Springs Boulevard south to access all the hot springs facilities and the post office. Access Apache Street to the south end of Hot Springs Boulevard to utilize the Ross Aragon Community Center. More information can be found at
    Enjoy this wonderful winter season that we have in Pagosa with myriad activities to participate or spectate. A full schedule of events is found at Click on the WinterFest 2020 listing above the WinterFest poster for all the details.