Bear Lake Monster Winterfest adding Cardboard Regatta to this year’s activities

A crowd watches a group of people jump into the ice cold waters of Bear Lake during the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest plunge.

GARDEN CITY – The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest, the Bear Lake valley’s biggest winter event, is right around the corner. Beginning Friday, Jan. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 26 there will be host of activities designed to attract visitors, have fun and enjoy a small town celebration.

The Chili Cook Off is a popular event at the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest. Participants can check in from 9 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. and judging will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Tami Leonhardt from the Bear Lake Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau said the event is growing in popularity.

“It is really well attended and this year we are giving away over $5,000 in prizes,” Leonhardt said. “Saturday night will be the award ceremony where winners of the activities will be awarded.”

There are free activities on Friday, including fat-tire bikes, snowshoes, snowmobiles and tubes for the kids. There will also be free hot cocoa and treats.

“The Monster Plunge participants can win awards for things like the best costumes, the biggest splash, there are a lot of categories,” she said. “Even the Cisco Disco will have some awards.”

Proceeds from this year’s plunge are going to The Family Place.

New this year will be the Bear Lake Monster Cardboard Regatta to be held at the Bear Lake Marina at noon on Saturday. Check-in starts at 11 a.m. and goes until the events starts. The vessels must be made entirely of cardboard using only glue or duct tape, all of which will be provided. There is a $15 entry and other rules may apply.

At this year’s Winterfest there are free activities on Friday where people can sample seasonal activities like fat-tire bikes, snowshoes, snowmobiles and tubes for the kids.

Also on Saturday, from 11 a.m. until noon, they will hold a Monster Cisco Disco Tournament. The competition begins at dawn and at Cisco Beach or anywhere else you can net the fish. Entrance fees apply and a Utah fishing license is required.

The Chili Cook Off check in will be from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Judging will begin at 12:30 p.m. with public sampling to follow.

The winners of the different categories for the Bear Lake Monster Plunge, the Cardboard Boat Regatta, the Cisco Disco, Chili Cook Off and 5K will be given at the Saturday night awards ceremony. The ceremony will be held at the Sunrise Resort and Event Center located at 865 N., Harbor Village E. Dr, Garden City from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.

“I noticed just last winter the weekends are attracting more people,” she said “We are finding skiers at Beaver (Mountain) stay in Bear Lake on the weekends.”

She said it is fun to see people discovering Bear Lake as a winter destination.

Fresh Cisco caught during their annual run at Bear Lake. The Cisco Disco brings sportsman every year to Cisco Beach to net the fish unique to Bear Lake.

“There will be a cisco fry up and scones on Saturday,” Leonhardt said. “The cisco runs last for two to three weeks in January after that they are done for the year.”

She said the crowds for the event are getting bigger every year.

The Cisco Disco brings sportsmen every year on the day of the Winterfest. There are awards for different categories.  Some of the fish are caught to eat and some are used for bait come spring and summer.

Garden City resident Scott Tolentino and some friends set up the fish fry for the Saturday of the celebration.

Tolentino and some friends catch the disco before the celebration.

“We cook 300 to 400 Cisco Saturday morning along with 50 pounds of scones and 80 pounds of fries,” he said. “There are quite a few people that come to eat and we just cook until everything is gone.”

There were some nets donated to the Division of Wildlife Resources for people to use for catching cisco.

Fisherman line up to net cisco on their annual run at Bear Lake.

People ask Tolentino to cook their fish but he declines; they prepare their fish the night before. They don’t realize how much time it takes.

He said the reason they call it the Cisco Disco is because “when people look from afar they see people moving to stay warm, it looks like they are dancing,” he said.

Most of the weekend activities are set to take place at the Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center.

The final event is a Sunday morning pancake breakfast sponsored by Cody’s Gastro Garage in Garden City. The cost of the breakfast is $5 for children and $8 for adults.


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