The ice menagerie |

The ice menagerie

Imagine the main fountain is a vortex, but instead of sucking things in it’s spewing out: a world where winter is both king and kingdom. Brian Hall’s reverse vortex is called Winterfest, and beginning this week, it will transform the Beaver Creek Plaza for two weeks.

“We’re going to turn it into a wonderful, theatrical set celebrating winter,” Hall said. “It’s going to be a completely immersive experience. We’ll have lights, and two and three-dimensional icons of winter – fire and ice and entertainment. It’s a magical walk through a magical time.”

Producer of the event for the Beaver Creek Resort Co., Hall’s the main man behind Blue Creek Productions, a company that specializes in family events and entertainment. He’s what you call a theater guy, and he takes Shakespeare’s words to heart: All the world’s a stage. And for Winterfest, all the plaza’s a stage – plus some of the borderlands. It will be like flipping a switch. One moment there’s a resort village, the next it’s a magical kingdom.

It’s designed for kids – the kid in everyone. At 3 p.m. daily for the duration of the festival, children are extolled to come to the Covered Bridge where they’ll be met by any of a whole cast of characters that includes the likes of the Snow Princess, Old Man Winter, Scurry and Snowflake, who also will be telling winter tales and greeting visitors when not leading the procession. After parading through the village, the world’s their winter playground.

Find the penguins

There will be music, flashing snowflakes, three-dimensional stars, and actors who spuriously add to the immersive illusion. Helmut Fricker will be singing and play ing his alpenhorn, heard in the distant hills. Each evening a different program will take place on the ice at the skating rink. And Paul Wertin of Alpine Ice is sculpting the life-sized menagerie out of crystal-clear ice.

“The main fountain will become this wonderful animal kingdom,” Hall said. “It’s going to be natural, organic, clean and wonderful. So we’re taking this whole fountain and filling it with the types of animals you’d see around here, like a mountain lion and an eagle. And the patriarch is a polar bear with his little cub.”

Many of the fountain animals will be visible from all over the plaza – but not all of them. You’ll have to get up close and personal to see some of them.

“And then mixed in here and there will be this incredible family of penguins,” Hall said. “If you come up and peek in, you might see a penguin visible from no other spot, fallen on his tooshka…. And there are five of these penguins who are mischievous and, unbeknownst to us, have jumped over the wall of the fountain, so we need the kids to find them.”

They’ll be tucked here and there around the village, just waiting to be found by wandering eyes and excitable minds.

And if all this isn’t enough, there will be other special events. The first-ever Beaver Creek’s Got Talent will take place during Winterfest; anyone can enter. A mountain-drum circle will have parents and kids alike discovering the rhythms of the day. And an “Animals of Winter” program will bring in live animals (and their caregivers) to teach kids about how the animals adapt and survive in their various winter climates.

“It’s natural, it’s organic, it’s real,” Hall said excitedly. “It won’t be manufactured stuff.”

And as long as the skies cooperate, there will be an abundance of snow, too.

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