BETHEL – With the 2013 Bethel WinterFest about a month away, the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce has begun construction on one of its biggest attractions: the snow volcano.

According to marketing specialist Jessie Perkins, work on the “snowcano” is in progress and should be completed within a few weeks.

“We have many, many dump trucks gathering snow from the roads in Bethel and delivering them to the site of the volcano,” Perkins said. “Also, Sunday River has allowed us to use a couple of their snow guns to make extra snow.”

Engineer Jim Sysko, responsible for designing the 50- to 60-foot volcano, said he considers this winter’s conditions better than last year’s.

“We’ve already hauled in a lot of road snow, and we have over a foot of snow on the ground right now,” Sysko said. “We could probably use another good storm, and we’ll be set.”

Sysko added there would be a 50-foot diameter room inside the volcano and people could enter and exit via two tunnels on either side of the volcano. Sysko said he’d also like to put lights inside, as well as picnic tables and seats people could use to escape the wind.

“I’m going to create the room, but whether or not we can use it is another story,” Sysko said. “It’s insurance and liability issues that would hold us up from doing it.”

Sysko also hopes to place a 400-foot zip line on top of the snow volcano and extend it to the nearby street corner. However, insurance problems could prevent Sysko from doing so.

“I created a zip line for Rumford to use, and it was liability that held them up for a while,” Sysko said. “Luckily, they were able to solve the problem, and we were able to place the zip line. Hopefully, Bethel can do the same.”

Perkins said that this year’s WinterFest will take place begin on Feb. 9 and continue until Feb. 23, with the eruption of the snow volcano falling on Feb. 16. Creators will ignite a giant bonfire inside the pile of snow so flames will erupt through and burn the funnel of trees at the top, creating a torch effect.

In addition to the snow volcano, Perkins said that the 4th annual Bethel Rail Jam will be held beside the snow volcano unlike previous years, where the Rail Jam was held on Main Street.

“Our crew decided to put the rail near the bottom of the snow volcano for added coolness,” Perkins said, laughing.

Sysko added that the board of selectmen will likely appreciate the Rail Jam taking place near the snow volcano, since it “won’t be as much of a disruption to traffic.”

Perkins also mentioned that the Bethel Chamber of Commerce is attempting to organize a snowman-making contest.

“People could submit photos of snowmen or snow creatures or whatever they want to our Facebook page,” Perkins said, “and we could judge them based on creativity and craftsmanship.”

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