BETHEL — Thanks to the timely arrival on Wednesday of more than a foot of powdery snow, the stage is set for Bethel WinterFest 2011.

The nine-day event will be held from Saturday, Jan. 22, through Sunday, Jan. 30.

Featured activities and events include ice skating, a Tubb’s snowshoe demonstration and scavenger hunt, snow groomer rides, alpine and Nordic events, a Main Street Rail Jam, scenic helicopter rides, Robin Zinchuk, executive director of the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, said in an e-mail.

Inside events include performances, exhibits at the Bethel Historical Society, music, food and special lodging deals.

Additionally, the Main Street Rail Jam returns Thursday, Jan. 27, for its second straight year.

“We had more than 1,000 people show up last year amidst a blinding snowstorm,” Zinchuk said of the snowboard and skiing competition.

“This is being built and run by volunteers, who approached the chamber to include the event in our festival.”

A video of last year’s Jam is on the chamber’s WinterFest website at A complete schedule of this month’s events can also be found there.

Zinchuk also said that Owens Corning, one of WinterFest 2011’s event sponsors, will be present for the duration of the festival. The company will showcase its replacement windows and insulated panel systems in a self-contained trailer at Festival Plaza.

“All are encouraged to come and sign up to win one of two grand prizes: a house full of replacement windows and a finished basement or garage system installed and fully furnished,” Zinchuk said.

Bethel’s winter festivals date back from the L.L. Bean Cross Country Ski Festival through the mid-1990s, she said.

“As you may know, we never missed a beat when L.L. Bean decided to discontinue the festival and we built the World’s Tallest Snowman — Angus King of the Mountain in 1999,” Zinchuk said.

“We had a variety of winter festival events through the early 2000s, such as an attempt to build 2,000 snowmen in the winter of 2000, a year we had a snow drought!” she said.

Other events included antique snowmobile shows, hot air balloon events, ice carving demonstrations and polar plunges.

“You name it, we have done it,” she said. “In 2008, we created Olympia SnowWoman. She was fabulous! In 2009, we hired a company to build us some enormous snow sculptures, and had a sculpting team from Alaska ‘wow’ us with their skills.”

Last year, the WinterFest volunteers created a huge snow maze.

This winter, they’re attempting to create a 120- to 140-foot-tall mountain of ice, which currently resembles an ice tower.

“Enveloped in white and red lights, the tower is a sight to behold and worth the trip to check out,” Zinchuk said.

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