By David Rogers. January 22, 2015. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Like Sooners ready to storm an Oklahoma Land Rush, by 5:24 pm Thursday night at Chetola Mountain Resort, you could see them chomping at the bit, ready to feast their eyes (and palates) on the offerings of 17 restaurants, all but one of them Blowing Rock’s finest.
COVER IMAGE: Yep, that’s our favorite “cover girl”, Blowing Rock “First Lady” Lynn Lawrence opening wide as one of the first arrivals at the early seating. And that dashing young man next to her? None other than the Mayor hisself!
As the chefs and their helpers put the finishing touches on their respective tables, each piled high with favorite cuisine and emanating wonderful aromas, 100 “early seating” diners had already lined up at the reception station, held back by Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce volunteers until the appointed hour. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. Suddenly it was 5:30 and Winterfeast was officially underway.
Acting as maitre d'(s), Paul Fairbetter and Ray Pickett, both impeccably dressed in coat and tie, extended their arms fashionably for their lady patrons to take, escorting each couple one-by-one to their assigned tables. Grabbing their plates, several of the Winterfeast guests at different times were heard to ask, “Where do we start?” Inevitably, someone would answer, “Anywhere you want!”
Some dove right in, taking a bit of anything and everything until they emerged at one end or another of the serving line with plate piled high, sometimes to overflowing. Others explored first, seeming to sneak from serving table to serving table, peeking over shoulders to get a good look at ALL the offerings before deciding with what to titillate his or her palate. “I don’t want to be seen as a glutton,” one chap smiled. “I can come back for seconds, after all!” A lady was heard to say, “Oh well, I can always count on Winterfeast to set back my New Year’s resolutions when it comes to losing weight!”
Timberlake’s, Canyons, The Chestnut Grille (at the Green Park Inn), The New Public House, Meadowbrook Inn, Gamekeeper, Woodlands, Rowland’s (Westglow), Best Cellar, Twigs — those were some of the fine eatery names we espied serving up delectables to big smiles. Holding her plate just a little too well, thumb well onto it, one woman seemed to purposely inch her thumb forward onto the plate just as the server spooned some of the good stuff — right onto her thumb. Mischievously, she grabbed the plate quickly with her other hand and unceremoniously licked her thumb clean. With a big smile, she pronounced her satisfaction with an even bigger, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.”
Sporting a beautiful smile to warm the hardest of wintertime grinches’ hearts, Timberlake’s server “Hannah” flitted from table to table, inquiring if the guests wouldn’t like some wine with their meal as they settled into their chairs, plates sporting a variety of dishes piled high atop one another in front of them. “Sure,” many would say. And Hannah would soon return with a favorite Chardonnay or Merlot or Pinot Grigio, among other varieties of vintages, the appropriate number of sparkling wine glasses turned upside down on her linen-lined serving tray.
One Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce staffer told Blowing Rock News, “We sold 300 Winterfeast tickets. We have three seatings and each seating serves 100. Yes, for sure that means we sold out.”
There were lots and lots of Chamber members volunteering in various roles. Jessica Smith of Blue Ridge Mountain Club and Melissa Pickett of Blowing Rock Inn were among the greeters checking people in. Others, like Kim Rogers of Jenkins Realtors were seen bussing tables — and all too soon setting up for the next seating.
An out-of-town guest in Blowing Rock for her first Winterfest shared with Blowing Rock News, “You know, if everything about Winterfest is as wonderful as Winterfeast, I can’t wait for tomorrow’s fashion show and Saturday’s Chili Cookoff!”