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Jumpfest Weekend Leaps Into New Activities

By Sarah Ellen Rindsberg

Photo by Kathleen Doyle.

Get your hand and foot warmers out; now you’re all set to join the thousands of spectators at the annual Jumpfest Weekend at the Satre Hill Ski Jumps in Salisbury on February 7-9. The weekend has been a highlight of winter in northwest Connecticut for decades, and this year offers an expanded lineup of activities that begin the preceding week. Not all of them call for extra layers, though, and some of the new indoor events even include something warm to drink.

The idea was to increase the scope of the events and to build momentum in the days leading up to the big weekend. It began with discussions among several local residents and merchants. “The thinking was that the three days are pretty full so if we wanted to do new events, we needed to start the week before,” says Willie Hallihan, one of the 20 directors of the Salisbury Winter Sports Association and the man in charge of marketing for the events.

One new feature in coordination with Jumpfest is the addition of several winter-themed art shows and openings. At Trinity Church in Lime Rock, a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception will mark the opening of its juried show. Over at the Academy Building, the invitational show Higher.Faster.Farther. catches the action at the jumps in photos shot by Jumpfest volunteers.

Work by several local artists in various media, including fiber, sculpture, prints and paintings, will be on display in The White Show at the White Gallery in Lakeville. Refreshments will be served at the gallery and ten percent of all proceeds will be donated to the Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA).

For those with a culinary bent, there will be numerous tastings for the first time in Jumpfest history. At the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville, Executive Chef Brandon Scimeca will lead a cooking demonstration, and Hillrock Estate Distillery Bourbon of Ancram will be offering samples of its aged bourbon whiskey. Both the Falls Village Inn and the Interlaken Inn will be offering package deals which include event tickets. At Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen, a tasting will be held over the entire Jumpfest weekend, and Jumpfest ticket holders will receive free souvenir SMV wineglasses.

The Human Dog Sled Race. Photo by David Newman.

There’s still a way for the non-skiing but sports minded enthusiasts to get involved. The ever-popular Human Dog Sled Races return, with more teams than ever expected to take the place of canines as they pull their cargo.

In addition to the traditional Snow Ball on Saturday night, revelers will gather pre-Jumpfest for the first Winter Warmer fundraiser, at the Salisbury home of Curtis and Susan Rand. The benefit grew out of the organizers’ desire to have a “fun party at the depths of winter.” Tickets for the party, catered by Country Bistro of Salisbury, are available on the website for $30.

Ice sculpture from last year’s festival.  Photo by Jonathan Doster.

This year’s ice-carving event will be a demonstration rather than a competition, and held in the square adjacent to LaBonne’s grocery store. Visitors can observe professional carvers as they craft their spectacular ice sculptures. “They know how to ‘weld’ ice,” Hallihan attests. “They’re beautiful but fleeting,” he adds, noting that the sculptures will be on display as long as Mother Nature permits.

And don’t forget the main events: Friday night jumping under the lights, the Saturday SWSA Invitational, and Sunday’s U.S. Eastern Ski Jumping Championships, where future Olympians start honing their medal mettle.

Friday, January 31
Trinity Church, Lime Rock, art exhibit opening with wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, 5 - 7 p.m.

Saturday, February 1
Academy Building, Salisbury, art opening with cider and cookie reception, 4 - 6 p.m.
Winter Warmer, at the home of Susan and Curtis Rand, Salisbury, $30 per person

Friday, February 7
Human Dogsled Races in the evening, at the conclusion of the target jumping, admission $15
Sunset Meadow Vineyards, tasting hours 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The White Gallery in Lakeville, art opening and refreshments, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Saturday, February 8
Ice Carving Demonstration at LaBonne’s Square, Salisbury 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards, tasting hours 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The White Gallery in Lakeville, art opening and refreshments, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Hillrock Bourbon Tasting and Chef Demonstration, Interlaken Inn, Lakeville, 4 - 6 p.m.
SWSA Snow Ball Dance Lakeville Hose Co. Annex, Lakeville, CT, 8 p.m. - midnight, admission $15

Sunday, February 9
Sunset Meadow Vineyards, tasting hours 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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