Winterfest is about giving

Winterfest isn't just about the food and performances. It's also about the community and, according to Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce's Billie Rogers, this year's offers plenty of ways to give to a local charity.

"It's a huge part of Winterfest," she said, "because charitable organizations make you feel good about spending your money. If you're coming on vacation and you're going to come up to Blowing Rock, yes, you'll get a little vacation ... but you'll also feel good inside, because you're giving money to all these different charity organizations."

Last year's Winterfest raised about $7,000, but the chamber does not anticipate a repeat.
"Last year, it was solely volunteer," Rogers said.

Since the chamber took the reins, it's more of a business, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of opportunities to give.

The High Country Cloggers aren't just bringing the beat with Saturday's 3:30 p.m. Snowflake Parade. They've initiated a fundraiser to raise cash and canned goods to benefit Watauga County Schools' food pantry.

"I feel like there's a need for awareness in the community, because there are definitely kids that are sent home with bags of food on a daily and weekly basis that need that extra boost," parent and organizer Amy Forrestor said.

Winterfest gave the kids the perfect outlet for service. "Aside from having a monetary donation box ... We're going to be collecting the canned food," she said.

The parade will start at the American Legion parking lot, and kids will march up to Main Street, then down past the Martin House, right on Laurel Lane and back to the American Legion.

Businesses are invited to join the effort by bringing banners and showing support during the march.
Mountain Alliance is another organization leading the charge for donations with a silent auction.

"In the past, we've had our silent auction in spring," organizer Tammie Jollie said, "but this year we were asked if we wanted to do our silent auction as a part of Winterfest."

The auction, held Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Blowing Rock School cafeteria from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., typically nets $5,000 to $6,000 for Mountain Alliance, which provides activities for high school students. "We're hoping for more this year," Jolly said.

And with more than 13,000 items from over a hundred businesses (think spa packages, original paintings and more) it's a goal you can be excited about.

And there are countless other giving opportunities this weekend. Take the free hot chocolate in the park.

"If you give a few dollars, you'll help the American Red Cross," Rogers said, and the Boy Scouts.

The Historical Society, what Rogers calls the "labor force" of the festival, gets part of the proceeds from the Chili Cook-off, and Saturday's pancake breakfast benefits Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue. The Polar Plunge benefits several charities, as each jumper gets to pick his or her beneficiary.

For more information on the events and charities of Winterfest, check out

by Lauren K. Ohnesorge

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