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Blowing Rock’s WinterFest toasts the season in High Country

Blowing Rock’s annual WinterFest celebration returns Jan. 21-25, with an array of events to pull non-skiers to the Western North Carolina mountains and keep busy those skiers who need a fun break from the slopes.

Now in its 17th year, the festival mixes season- and family-friendly activities with functions that point up the area’s year-round posh potential.

Outdoor events include a Jan. 23 (Friday) family night at Appalachian Ski Mountain, with special-price snowboard lesson packages from the French-Swiss Ski College; also, there’s ice skating with a rink-side bonfire. (Reservations required: www.skifrench-swiss.com.) At 10 a.m. Jan. 24, there’s a polar plunge into the lake at Chetola Resort; also starting at 10 a.m. are free hayrides downtown and five hours of kids’ activities. That Saturday also features an ice-carving competition from noon to 4 p.m. and a 5 p.m. bonfire at Memorial Park (weather permitting) with live music.

Winter-related indoor events include a Jan. 23 fashion show; the Jan. 24 Cross-country Ski & Snow Equipment Exhibition at SweetGrass; and the Jan. 24 WinterPaws Dog Show.

Food-related events range from the traditional (Jan. 24’s Chilly Chili Cookoff) to the High Country Small Plate Crawl (Jan. 21-25; www.platecrawl.com), the Jan. 22 five-restaurant WinterFeast at Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort and Jan. 24 wine tasting at Green Park Inn.

Additional live music performances and arts events are also scheduled.

Details (including prices): www.blowingrockwinterfest.com.

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