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Winterfest brings avalanche of events to Wisp resort

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Winterfest brings 10 days of fun and activities for all ages to Wisp Ski Resort in McHenry. Selected as the Maryland Winter Event of the Season by the state's Office of Tourism Development, Winterfest opens on Friday and runs through March 3.

The Winterfest Queen will be crowned at a kickoff party Friday evening, beginning at 7:30 at the Will o' the Wisp. One of the highlights of the event is the two-day Governor's Cup Slalom from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The race attracts some of the mid-Atlantic's finest amateur competitors. An awards ceremony will be held Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Other events on Saturday are Ski for Heart, a fund-raiser for the American Heart Association, a winter golf tournament and a chili cook-off. On Sunday, regional artists BTC will compete in a snow sculpturing contest.

Three evenings of challenging and fun events for school-age children are planned Tuesday to Thursday. The Telemark Race will take place on Friday at 1 p.m., and that evening at 6. Scholastic Races provide competition for regional junior and senior high school students. Saturday is a big day with the Mid-Atlantic Snowboard Series Championship scheduled at 10 a.m.; the Winterfest Winter Triathlon and McDonald's Pee Wee Championships and Fun Run for children under the age of 10, both at 11 a.m.; some fun races in the afternoon; and the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. On the final day there are more fun races and competitions concluding with the Streamer Parade. A tradition for more than 15 years, this grand parade features skiers in costume with streamers in hand following Yakapah Garbola, the festival mascot, down the slopes as judges decide who's best.

There are entry fees for participants, but there is no admission to Winterfest events. For information, call (301) 387-4911.

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George Washington's birthday continues to be cause for celebrating this week. Washington was born at Popes Creek in Westmoreland County on Virginia's Northern Neck. The original home was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day in 1779. In 1930-'31 a Memorial House was erected at the site, which is known as the Washington Birthplace National Monument. The site of the original house has been outlined in oyster shells to give an idea of its size. Beside the Memorial House the historic area consists of outbuildings such as a kitchen, spinning room and Colonial workshop, where you can see woodwork and blacksmith demonstrations. The farm area is stocked with farm animals of the period. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $1 for ages 17 to 61.

George Washington's birthday will be observed there tomorrow with an all-day celebration. Hours will be extended to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

A number of activities will take place in the historic area. Park staff and volunteers will perform seasonal tasks from candle-dipping to spinning to blacksmithing. A living history group from Richmond will portray ladies and gentlemen from Washington's youth. Visitors can see the preparation of a multicourse Colonial feast and an ox-driving demonstration in the farm area. Music will be performed on a spinet in the Memorial House during afternoon hours, and gingerbread and cider will be served at the park's log house, which is normally closed to the public. Youngsters can attend a half-hour marionette show which chronicles Washington's childhood. As dusk falls the historic area will be lighted by candles and lanterns.

The birthplace is off Route 3, 38 miles from Fredericksburg. Call (804) 224-1732.

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Several events are also planned in Fredericksburg, Va., where Washington spent his youth. His boyhood home, Ferry Farm, will host an open house today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At 2 p.m. there will be an address by Army Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, vice chief of staff, on Operation Desert Storm. Preceding the talk there will be music by two fife and drum corps and a military demonstration. Gates will open at 12:30 p.m. and free shuttle service will operate between the Fredericksburg Visitor Center and Ferry Farm. Admission is free.

Tomorrow seven major historic attractions in Fredericksburg will offer half-price admission. They include the Mary Washington House, the home of Washington's mother; Rising Sun Tavern, built in 1760 by Washington's brother Charles; Kenmore Plantation, home of Washington's sister; the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, where the Washington family bought medicines; Belmont, home of artist Gari Melchers; the James Monroe Museum; and the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center.

On Washington's actual birthday (Feb. 22) the Martha Washington House will host a birthday party. Costumed hostesses will conduct tours of the house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and spiced tea and cake will be served. Admission is $3 for adults, 75 cents for students. For information, call (703) 373-1776.

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Gingerbread Days are being celebrated at Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing, Pa., this weekend (through Monday) and again on Feb. 22 at the Thompson-Neely House, built in 1702. Hostesses in Colonial costume will prepare and bake gingerbread, believed to have been Washington's favorite sweet. Visitors can sample the results as they learn about 18th century baking techniques. The house, which is located in the park, served as headquarters for one of Washington's generals (William Sterling and his staff) from Dec. 9-25, 1776. It was here that some of the plans for the Battle of Trenton were drawn up. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $1.50 for adults, $1 for seniors, 50 cents for ages 6 to 17, free for under 6. Call (215) 493-4076.

The Washington Crossing Foundation will host a George Washington's Birthday party Feb. 22 at the park's Memorial Building from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. "George Washington" will be on hand to greet guests and to cut his large birthday cake. Music will be played on the hammer dulcimer and food and refreshments will be served. Admission is $15 per person or $25 per couple. Reservations are required. Call (215) 493-6577.

For those who wish to break winter's monotony, WinterSong is the answer. Now in its fourth year, WinterSong is a festival for all ages, featuring traditional and American music, dance, workshops, concerts and storytelling. It takes place on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. at the Old Armory, now the Adult Recreation Center, in Frederick.

Various groups will perform on the main stage every hour from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. A family concert by Evening Star will be followed by others in jazz, gospel, old-time string band, bluegrass and Cajun music. In another area there will be music workshops in finger-style guitar, humorous songs, old-time fiddle and banjo, hammer dulcimer and autoharp. There will also be dance workshops featuring instruction in English country dancing, tap dance and clogging. Throughout the day, the Frederick Area Tale Spinners will offer folk tales and fairy tales from the Appalachian region for both adults and children. Between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. there will be freestyle jamming. The last event will be a square and contra dance from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for ages 12 and under. The evening dance costs $6. The center is at West Second and Bentz streets. For information, call (301) 694-1436 or 694-1682.

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