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July 31, 2014

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Elizabeth Hempfling of the Wedding Re-Store in Boone dons a full wedding gown for her plunge into the lake at this year’s WinterFest Polar Plunge. Photo by Jeff Eason

Originally published: 2014-01-30 16:54:54
Last modified: 2014-01-30 16:58:19

Chills and thrills

If you look at WinterFest’s Polar Plunge by the numbers, you’ll see that approximately 400 people came out to watch 112 lake jumpers stand around in 22 degree weather before leaping into 36 degree water.

Probably the most important number — how many dollars were raised by the Polar Plunge for the Watauga Humane Society and the Western Youth Network — won’t be known for a few days, but it is expected to be around the several thousand dollar mark.

This year’s event was hosted by WBTV anchorman John Carter and his co-worker, meteorologist Ashley Batey, who joined the jumpers in a solo plunge into the icy depths of Chetola Lake.

The weather for Saturday’s events at WinterFest was absolutely perfect as a steady stream of light snow fell on an already blanketed landscape.

“They say that God looks out for fools and children, and I am definitely older than 18,” said WinterFest organizer Billie Rogers about the weather.

A new event at this year’s WinterFest, an oyster roast, wine and dessert tasting, attracted several hundred festivalgoers to Blowing Rock Market on Saturday.

The event featured a wine luge created by members of the U.S. Army Special Forces Ice Carving Team. A bit of wine was poured into the top and emerged, ice cold, into a shot glass made of ice, at the bottom.

After drinking their shot of wine, tasters were encouraged to smash their shot glass on the parking lot of the market while shouting the traditional Greek toast to your health, “Opa!”

Blowing Rock’s 16th annual WinterFest event wrapped up Sunday with the Winter Paws Dog Show, sponsored by the Watauga Humane Society, at the Blowing Rock School gymnasium.


For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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