The annual North Bennington Winter Festival will be held Saturday, January 16, 2016 starting at 10:30am.  This is a yearly Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce event that draws out locals, visitors, shops and the community to gather and share in some fun during the winter months.

The day starts with the Penguin Plunge, a Special Olympics event that sees swimmers diving into the freezing cold waters of Lake Paran in order to raise funds for the Olympics.  The actual Plunge will happen at 11am at the Lake Paran Boat Launch, but visitors and plungers are welcome to show up at 7am for cocoa and registration.  For more information or to register visit

One of the major events every year is the ice sculpture competition at the North Bennington train depot, in which various local organizations carve beautiful designs out of massive blocks of ice. The three prize baskets will be awarded for most creative, most artistic and people’s choice.  The committee is still looking for teams to participate.  The competition will start at 7am, with judging at 2pm. To register a team visit:

Also at the train depot visitors will find a Girl Scouts booth with arts, crafts, hot drinks and a bake sale. The Manchester Rod and Gun Club will have a table in the train depot to promote the upcoming Primitive Biathlon. The primitive biathlon consists of snowshoeing and target shooting and is held to fund scholarships for children to attend the yearly Green Mountain Conservation Camp with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information, check out:

The Village School of North Bennington will host its annual Winter Carnival starting at noon and going until 4:00pm.  This indoor carnival will feature fun and games for kids of all ages including a bouncy house, glitter tattoos, cotton candy, popcorn, delicious fare from the Hound Dogs Food Truck, games of chance, games of skill and interactive STEM-based games (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), as well as a video game tournament.

Trying to warm up?  The Norshaft Lions will be hosting a Chili Fest at the Catholic Church on Houghton Street to help with their fundraising efforts.  With over 30 chili cooks expected to take part, this is a must-attend event.  The tasting begins at 11:30am and will go to 2pm.

At 10:30 AM, the Library will feature a penguin-themed story time and community craft project. Weather permitting, they will also host snow painting in the lot behind the Library.

Kevin’s Sports Pub and Restaurant will have food and drink specials and music during the evening, Powers Market will offer sandwiches and a snowflake activity, and North Bennington Variety will have a chilidog special. Weather permitting, a wagon ride will stop at each of the sites around the village.

“This is a great, annual event that gets people up and out of their houses and connecting with other community members,” stated Matt Harrington, the new Executive Director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.  “Although this is my first time at the helm of such a project, I have enjoyed Winterfest with family as a spectator for many years.  I was amazed at how much the small community of North Bennington quickly comes together and puts on this great event in such a wintery month.  This is possible because of the volunteers, sponsors and engagement by the community – this is what living in Vermont is all about!  I am very proud of the volunteers that make this happen every year. It truly takes a community, and we’ve got some of the best in the area.”

Lindy Lynch, owner of Kevin’s Restaurant and lead organizer of the event had this to say, “I love this yearly event.  It’s great for all ages. I like the collaborative effort of all the various groups.”

A big thank you to the major sponsors and supporters of the event: The Vermont Country Store, Darn Tough Vermont, WCAX Channel 3, Select Design, North Bennington Fire Department, Matt Morse Excavating, North Bennington Variety, the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce and the many volunteers that help yearly to make this event happen.  Maps and information will be available at various locations around North Bennington including the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce membership and welcome center on Veterans Memorial Drive.