Imagine flying through the air the length of almost a football field—with skis strapped on your feet. That’s what many daring young competitors will do with ease at the annual Jumpfest Winter Festival. This much-anticipated annual event celebrates its 88th year February 7 to 9 at Satre Hill in Salisbury, in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills.
On Sunday, February 9, plan to start your morning off right with pancakes and eggs at the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance fundraiser breakfast. The highlight, the Eastern U.S. Ski Jumping Championships begins with practice at 11 am, the competition begins at 1 pm. and shows off the tremendous coordination, skill and grace it takes to soar so far with a happy landing. Everyone will be hoping to beat the Salisbury record, an impressive 231-foot jump.
The championship, often featuring future Olympic hopefuls, is the climax of a weekend of thrills and fun beginning under the lights Friday with a chili cook-off at 6:30 p.m., followed by target jumping and the human dogsled race. The dogsled race, a crowd favorite, has competing teams of five humans pulling a sled and driver around a .3-mile course. It’s all in fun, and teams can get very creative with both their costumes and sleds.
Saturday events start with the youth Nordic 20 and 30- meter jumping competition, followed by the Salisbury Invitational Competition for ski jumpers.
Popular Saturday features include the annual ice carving demonstration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. of creative sculptures on display at the LaBonne Square in the center of Salisbury and a bourbon tasting and chef demonstration at the Interlaken Inn on Rte. 112 in Lakeville. Everyone is invited to attend the Snow Ball Saturday night at the Lakeville Hose Company, 9 Sharon Road in neighboring Lakeville.
The all-volunteer Salisbury Winter Sports Association, host of the annual championships, maintain cross country ski trails for SWSA members in Salisbury and provides scholarship funds for downhill ski programs at four area schools.
For happy viewing, the Association recommends that spectators dress warmly in lots of layers and bring a cowbell, the traditional way to cheer on the jumpers. Hot food and beverages are available each day to help watchers keep warm. Limited bleacher seating is provided or viewers can bring their own lawn chairs.
Satre Ski Hill is located on Indian Cave Road, off Route 44 in Salisbury. Signs in the center of Salisbury point the way to ample free parking. For further information, see www.jumpfest.org
Festival-related events starting a week before Jumpfest have been organized. Friday Jan.31st there will be a winter-themed art show opening at the Trinity Church in Lime Rock from 5-7 pm., and on Saturday Feb 1st a photography show Faster.Higher.Farther. opens at the Academy Building in Salisbury with a reception from 4-6 pm. During Jumpfest Winter Festival weekend The White Gallery in Lakeville will donate 10% of art sales to SWSA and Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen on Rte. 63 is offering a free glass of wine with Jumpfest tickets.
For more information about ski jumping and other winter activities nearby, and a free copy of Unwind, a full-color, 163-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in the Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at www.litchifeldhills.com