Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sandpoint Winter Carnival Returns January 14th

Looking for a place to get away but don’t want to stand in line at airports or battle the crowds of bigger cities? This week in Sandpoint, residents and visitors will celebrate the 37th Annual Winter Carnival. With several days of festivities planned, organizers say that the old favorites will return and new ones will be added to the roster.

The carnival kicks off with the popular Taste of Sandpoint Thursday at the Sandpoint Events Center from 5 to 8 p.m. This carnival tradition showcases food from more than a dozen Sandpoint restaurants. Patrons can purchase food and beverage tickets at the door at $1 each; and organizers say the average cost of a sample dish, beer or glass of wine ranges from $3 to $7.

“The Taste of Sandpoint is huge, usually 700 to 800 people attend,” said Amy Little, executive director for the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. “You can try out different cuisine at local places without spending a lot of money.”

Thursday also marks the beginning of two new events this year – Dine Around Sandpoint and Shop Around Sandpoint.

Dine Around Sandpoint will go through Feb. 16, and will feature special menu items, discounts, wine specials and special events at several area restaurants. Each time a customer dines at a participating restaurant, they will be entered into a drawing for various prizes including the grand prize of dinner for two once a month for a year.

Thursday will commence a five-day Sandpoint shopping spree, also known as Shop Around Sandpoint. By visiting area merchants and collecting six passport stamps, participants will be eligible to win a variety of prizes including the grand prize of two season tickets to the Festival at Sandpoint, an annual summer concert series.

On Friday evening, downtown from 5 to 7 p.m., galleries and shops will host the Winter Art Trek showcasing original artwork of several local and regional artists. If you cannot make it on Friday evening, the event continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maps for this self-guided tour are available from several downtown merchants.

While downtown, people can stop by Taylor-Parker Motor Co. at 300 Cedar St. between 5 and 8 p.m. to enjoy short action films of daring snow stunts. Right down the street at Pend d’Oreille Winery, there will be an opportunity to enjoy the incredible performance of fire spinners.

And a favorite among many when introduced last year, the Rail Jam, which includes a ski and snowboard stunt competition, will take place Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m., along with a bonfire, at Jeff Jones Town Square at Main Street and Third Avenue.

“The Rail Jam and the fire dancers at the winery were very popular last year,” said Little. “They are just fun to watch and total spectator sports. The bonfire was also near the Rail Jam and it just felt fun to be able to be outside in the winter.”

The Rail Jam includes skiers and boarders who perform acrobatic moves on handrails and other man-made apparatus. The contestants are judged on style, amplitude, difficulty and variety. A rail which measures 30 feet tall and 100 feet long will dominate the square as riders compete for cash prizes.

One of the newest members of the business community is eager to join the action and has stepped forward to host Family Fun Day and Coffee Tasting. On Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 524 Church St., Evans Brothers Coffee Roasting Studios will offer food, live music, hand-crafted coffees and indoor and outdoor activities for all ages.

Saturday evening the action will be at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, which will again host a torchlight parade and fireworks.

On Sunday morning from 10 a.m. to noon, Eichardt’s Pub at 212 Cedar St. plans to host a K-9 Keg Pull. Dogs of all sizes compete while pulling empty kegs that are matched in size to the dog. Organizers say that for a miniature dog, a keg could be as small as a beer can while full-size dogs will pull full-size kegs.

Winter Carnival brings life to what is typically a quieter time of the year in downtown Sandpoint.

“Last year there were people everywhere – packed restaurants and license plates from all over the region,” said Little.

For more information on the Sandpoint Winter Carnival, log onto www.sandpoint.org/wintercarnival (http://www.sandpoint.org/wintercarnival)

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