Each year, Bend WinterFest seems to get a bit bigger, and this year is no different.
One way the festival is getting measurably bigger is through a larger, taller rail jam jump that will launch snowboarders and skiers into the air as they perform stunts on the snow. This year the tower will measure 52 feet, the tallest tower organizers have built featuring the largest jump.
The three-day event, which begins today (see “If you go”), brings a host of fun events and activities to the area surrounding Les Schwab Amphitheater in the Old Mill District.
“Every year we try to add some fun, new, exciting component,” said event director Lee Perry.
The biggest addition to WinterFest is Metal Mulisha, a world famous motocross group that will showcase all sorts of aerobatic exploits Sunday.
Tonight skiers will hit the rail jam, and on Saturday night the snowboarders get their shot at the tower.
This is the second year the event will take place in the Old Mill District (previously the festival took place downtown). Perry said the move has been great and given the event the space it needed. The goal is to “make it one of the largest festivals in the Northwest during wintertime.”
In addition to the towering rail jam, the festival celebrates all things winter in other ways as well. The festival attracts some top cross-country skiers, who will compete tonight.
This year the festival will need extra help with snow. Perry expects the festival will need 40 to 50 truckloads of snow brought down from the mountains. But a dash of warm(ish) weather shouldn't hurt the festival. In fact, organizers hope some non-Arctic air will bring out a few more revelers.
The event includes a special area dedicated to kids. The character Mrs. Snowberry will offer numerous kids' shows each day and children will be invited to celebrate Frosty's birthday.
The kids' center will also feature inflatable bounce houses as well as pony rides and a climbing wall.
On the adult side of things, WinterFest offers four beer gardens, including one situated between the main music stage and the rail jam. The Winter Olympics begin this weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Perry said TVs throughout the festival area will show the Olympics, including the opening ceremonies tonight.
Organizers are also sponsoring the Winter Wine Walk. For $20, individuals receive a wine glass, admission button for WinterFest and 10 wine tastings. Eighteen retailers in the Old Mill District will offer tastes of wine during the event, which runs from 5 to 9 tonight.
WinterFest will also showcase snow and ice sculptures and a fire dancing troop. A marketplace tent offers visitors a chance to warm up while they peruse offerings from 60 vendors.