NORTH BENNINGTON -- Having fun with winter yet? Either way, WinterFest is coming.

The day-long Saturday, Feb. 1, event kicks off at the Lake Paran boat launch with registration for the annual Penguin Plunge at 8:30 a.m., with the plunging to commence at 11 a.m. The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring WinterFest, will be serving hot cocoa at 9:30 a.m.

A quick dip

The event involves people taking a quick dip into chilly waters. Participants must pay an entry fee and are required to have raised a certain amount of money for Special Olympics Vermont. For more details on the event, visit www.specialolympicsvermont.org.

If the plunge makes you forget what warm is, stave off hypothermia at the After Plunge Party, held at the Vermont Arts Exchange on Sage Street in North Bennington, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The party will feature all sorts of fun things such a chili tasting by the Norshaft Lions - sample 12 kinds - live music by the BuzzSaw Boys, massages by Laura Bull of "Massage for You," plus a cash bar.

Meanwhile, ice sculptures will be on display at the North Bennington Train Depot. You can watch them being made throughout the day, but be there at 3 p.m. to see prizes awarded. Don't forget to vote for "people's choice" while you're there.

If that wasn't enough snow and ice-themed fun, be sure to catch a snowshoe demonstration by DION.


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There will also be sugar-on-snow, and a build-your-own hot chocolate booth, the proceeds of which will benefit the Bennington Dollars for Scholars program.

For the kids, the Village School of North Bennington is hosting its indoor winter carnival from noon to 4 p.m. It will feature all the trappings of a winter carnival, including a bouncy house, face painters, games, popcorn, snow cones, hot dogs, and a bake sale.

Other events throughout the day include the Pet Winter Fashion Show at Whitman's Feed Store in North Bennington, wagon rides all day in the North Bennington village, story time at 10 a.m. at the John G. McCullough Free Library, and snowflake making at Power's Market.

And to cap everything off, WinterFest lovers can get their dance on at the After Dark Dance Party at the American Legion in Bennington. The dance runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. There will be a live band, a DJ, and of course karaoke.