BETHEL — A 40-foot-tall "volcano" made of snow is set to erupt at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at Festival Plaza, off the Parkway between Routes 2 and 26 in Bethel.
The snowcano is the centerpiece of Bethel's annual WinterFest, which began Feb. 9 continues through Sunday, Feb. 24.
The huge pile of snow, which is about 100 feet in diameter, is built around a core of tree-length logs stood on end, Jessie Seymour Perkins of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce said late Thursday afternoon in a news report.
When the logs are lit through a tunnel at the base, flames and sparks will shoot out the top high into the air, creating the effect of a volcano, Seymour Perkins said.
This is the second year WinterFest has featured a snow volcano.
Jim Sysko, the engineer behind many WinterFest projects over the years, had ideas for design changes that he expects will result in a bigger and better show this time around, Seymour Perkins said.
Numerous other volunteers have contributed everything from delivering and installing the logs, to manning snow guns, shaping the snow pile with a groomer, and digging the tunnel through which the snowcano will be lit, she said.
Locals are asked to get in the spirit of WinterFest by building snowmen in their backyards or businesses, and entering them in a photo contest by sharing them on the chamber’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bethelarea.
The winner will receive $100 cash. The runner-up will receive a $50 gift certificate to Bethel gift shop Nabos. Entries will be accepted until noon on Saturday, Feb. 23.
That Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., free snowshoe demos and groomer rides will be available to the public at Festival Plaza. At 6 p.m. the snowcano snow hill will be the setting for RailWars, a rail jam under the lights.
"Freestyle skiers and snowboarders can show off their best moves on rails and jumps built into the side of hill," Seymour Perkins said.
Sledding is permitted on the sides of the Snowcano every day until it melts, she said. Sledders must bring their own equipment and sled at their own risk.
Events are planned around the Bethel area throughout the week, including Nordic and alpine skiing, snowshoeing, children’s activities, live music and sleigh rides.
Bethel WinterFest is organized in partnership with the Town of Bethel and presented by sponsors Sunday River Resort and Norway Savings Bank.