Cooper’s Rock fest celebrates winter fun Feb. 9

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Clouds hang low over the canyon of the Cheat River near Coopers Rock. Photo courtesy Dan Friend.

The eighth annual Winterfest celebration at Coopers Rock State Forest Feb. 9 provides guests free hikes, introductory courses in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and wintry competitions, including a new Men’s Snowball Showdown.

Near Morgantown, West Virginia, the forest famously overlooks the canyon of the Cheat River from the summit of the Chestnut Ridge and is a primary destination for wintry fun in northern West Virginia.

Scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the free event organized by the Coopers Rock Foundation includes 13 events and attractions, according to superintendent Jan Dzierzak.

“It’s a day for all those who love wintertime outdoor recreation to come together,” Dzierzak said of the fest, during which donations will be accepted to help raise raise money to improving the forest’s infrastructure.

Kid-friendly activities will be clustered within a few dozen yards of the  day-use parking area. The short sledding hill, the snow sculpture zone and the forest’s one-of-a-kind snowball target range are sure to grab the attention of children and help them burn off energy.

Three WinterFest events feature competitions with one-of-a-kind handmade trophies for the winners. These include the Mass-Start Downhill-Dash Cross-Country Skiing Race and the Women’s Frying-Pan Toss, which have been a part of every Winterfest, and, new this year, a Men’s Snowball Showdown.

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Two winter tree-identification hikes also are scheduled — one around the festival site and the other to a nearby rocky maze. Additionally, there will be a temporary disc-golf course set up with up to five baskets.

Hot coffee and hot chocolate will be available at the warming fire area. If there is no snow, the festival will continue with eight of the 13 events and attractions. Details are available at .

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