This weekend: Winterfest returns to North Bennington

NORTH BENNINGTON — It takes a village to put on a truly fun and memorable festival, and North Bennington will rise to the occasion this Saturday as it hosts Winterfest.

The annual festival is being put on by the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, but many businesses and community organizations are participating in their own way. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Matt Harrington said that this year's event will be the biggest yet.

One of the prime attractions every year is the Paran Plunge, which will take place at 11 a.m. Before that, starting at 8:30, volunteers from Lake Paran and the cub scouts will provide a full pancake breakfast. Those who are interested in registering can do so at the Chamber's website, Registration for the fundraiser is $10 a person, but individuals are asked to contribute an additional $40 and teams are asked to contribute an additional $250. Anyone over the age of eight is eligible to participate. All of the money raised will go towards the Lake Paran's summer programming for children.

The NorShaft Lions Club will hold their ninth annual Chili Fest at St. John the Baptist Church's Community Hall from 11:30 1:30 p.m. Guests will be able to sample over 25 varieties of chili, ranging from mild to spicy. There will be both meat and vegetarian options, as well as soda and water for sale. Those with room for dessert, the girl scouts will be on hand selling baked goods.

The Village School of North Bennington is hosting a winter carnival from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., which will feature a wide variety of activities for children and adults alike, including STEM games, a bounce house, carnival food, glitter tattoos, games of skill and chance, a video game tournament, a used book sale, and a white elephant sale. Attendance to the carnival is free, but tickets must be purchased for the games and events, at 10 for $5, 25 for $10 or 55 for $20.

The nearby Southshire Community School will also open its doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with free cookie decorating and other crafts. Bennington County Head Start will be participating as well, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., hosting penguin-themed snacks and crafts.

The Park McCullough House is getting in on the fun this year, and will host snowman building and a bonfire, complete with s'mores, on the lawn in front of the main house from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Friends of the John G. McCullough Free Library will host a pop-up book and media sale at the library, with sale specials to be announced throughout the day. All proceeds from the sale will benefit library programming. At 10:30 a.m. in the children's room, the library will host a penguin-themed reading, craft, and trivia game. Any children who visits the children's room will also receive a free book of their choice. Outside the library, there will be a festive photo booth.

At the Left Bank from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Power Guru Solar Electric Systems will host a solar fair, with demonstrations, electric car rides, and more, as well as wine and cheese. Anyone who is feeling a little stressed out should also stop by for free acupuncture by Jeffrey Gordon and chair massage and paraffin hand soaks by Laura Bull.

The Bennington Area Arts Council will host their winter art show at the Village Train Station from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Rhythm Hollow Stables at Taraden will be providing pony rides for $5.

Local businesses are also offering specials and are hosting special events as part of the celebration. Kevin's Sports Pub and Restaurant is hosting "Beer, Bourbon, Barbecue, and Bacon" from 2 p.m. to close, with live music, a pig roast, a bacon-eating contest, pork-themed specials, and more. Power's Market will be hosting an all day drink tasting from Spirits of Old Bennington and a cheese tasting from Maplebrook Farm. North Bennington Variety will be selling coffee and hot chocolate for $1. Pangaea will be offering early bird dinner specials starting at 5 p.m.

Winterfest's primary sponsors are Power Guru, Whitman's Feed Store, North Bennington Variety, and the Bennington Banner. In addition to the organizations that have already been mentioned, the Chamber thanked the following for contributing: Vermont Arts Exchange, North Bennington Fire Department, Village of North Bennington, North Bennington Highway Superintendent Norm LeBlanc, Catamount Access Television, and the Bennington Rescue Squad.

Weather permitting, there will be a wagon circling between all the participating locations, and the Chamber will be placing maps and information in various locations throughout the village. These can also be picked up in advance from the Chamber's offices on Veterans Memorial Drive in Bennington.

Derek Carson can be reached at, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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