"Chill Fest Charlie" and Dave Dudek have this year's Chill Fest licked, though only Polar Plunge enthusiast Dudek might be able to get away from that street sign.
"Chill Fest Charlie" and Dave Dudek have this year's Chill Fest licked, though only Polar Plunge enthusiast Dudek might be able to get away from that street sign.
Winter blues?

We've got that licked, baby.

The weather outside is frightful, but that makes it the perfect time to chill out in Chatfield, where people are just plain stuck having fun at the 11th annual Chill Fest.

The January celebration is planned for Saturday, Jan. 26, thanks to the Chatfield Lions, who have organized so many different events to make mid-winter Minnesota minds meld as they become Bunco babes, practice their salsas, shush on snowshoes, plunge into polar paradise, make their mark on the cold cash scorecards and listen to the eelpouts at the Bean.

"It's a day to get rid of cabin fever, go outside or somewhere inside and take advantage of what's being offered. We encourage people to get out and do things," said Lions Club member Matt Opat. "We organize a variety of activities and the other organizations and groups make them happen."

Health fair

Once one clears the deck and thaws out the thermometer, shovel into Maddock Hall at St. Mary's Catholic Church on Twiford Street for a hearty helping of health information and news. The Help Our Neighbors Community Health Fair, sponsored by Chatfield's Help Our Neighbors (HON) senior citizen assistance program and Olmsted Medical Center, opens at 10 a.m. and continues through 2 p.m. Peel off those layers of winter coat, under-winter-coat, jacket, sweater, second sweater, three gloves on each hand and that packet of Puffs, and peruse the vendor booths, get a tote-load of brochures and other good things to decorate the fridge, and take on 2013 with enthusiasm for exercise. Director Sue Awes has more details at (507) 251-0520.

Polar Plunge

Nobody really likes summertime swimming...there's no pain or false modesty in the storytelling. But the Polar Plunge, to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has it all - the chance to ditch that pernicious parka and forge foolishly into Mill Creek, emerging with a scream, a holler, a frozen finger and an "It's not THAT bad...really...no, I'm OK, I'm OK, I'm OK...could be worse."

The Chatfield Fire Department stands on the banks, supervising the outrageous action. Some of them even give in and have a little giggle as the plungers do the twist and shout on the way in (and also on the way out).

The Polar Plunge is set for 2 p.m. at Mill Creek Park and the Third Street bridge, with lineup slated for 1 p.m. Before lineup, though, there's signup - registration forms are available on the city website at www.ci.chatfield.mn.us or at Dave's Barbershop on the corner of Main and Third, where Dave Dudek's dreaming of a double-decker dip squad and some serious spectators. Firefighter Dean Irish can elaborate on the excitement at (507) 993-1523.

Bunco

It's not Minnesotan to smile that much, but one could go bonkers for Bunco with Isy French and the Chatfield Women's Community Club at the Thurber Building at 21 Second Street SE at 3 p.m. French is ready to become a "Bunco babe" once again as she rolls the dice to start the "musical chairs" sort of social soiree that "begins when the head table rolls the trump." For more information, call Isy at (507) 867-4586.

Salsa contest

Perhaps the solution to severe seriousness is to practice passing the Presbyterian salsas at the Pioneer Presbyterian Church's salsa contest. The church will be showcasing salsas, from hot to mild, and some rather unique concoctions that may deviate from the expected.

Pioneer Kids youth leader Pam Bluhm predicts that there will be plenty of entries to pass around for judging - entries should be labeled on the bottom of the jar and delivered to the church no later than 2:30 p.m., as tasting commences at 3.

Bluhm also expects a crowd to convene for the Kids' chili supper fundraiser, meant to shuffle them off on a mission trip to Rapid City, S.D., this coming summer, after the temperature's above zero. The $6 per person stir starts at 4:30 p.m. and ends when the pot's empty at 6:30 p.m. For more chilly on the chili, contact Pam Bluhm at (507) 867-3870.

Candlelight snowshoe

Shush. Shush. Shush. Uphill. Downhill. Uphill again. In the dark. If walking into frigid water wasn't enough, walking on flaky water is the next thing to do as the Bluff Country Hiking Club's candlelight snowshoe walk departs from the Groen Park shelter at 5:30 p.m., rounding the bend and returning an hour later. Tim Gossman knows it all at (507) 867-4120.

Bingo

The St. Mary's St. Francis and Catherine Divisions are proving that "BINGO" is more than a dog's name-o at 6 p.m. in Maddock Hall as they challenge Chill Fest-ers to keep up with the "I-5, B-3" scorecard action at the Cold Cash Bingo. Don't get too worked up...or one might have a blackout. Kelly Nosbisch has the four corners on the affair at (507) 867-4987.

Chosen Bean Concert

Better than a tongue on a frozen signpost, the perfect ending to an over-the-top day is listening to the eelpouts at the Bean...the "Eelpout Stringers," specifically.

The Twin Cities area string quartet will perform at the Chatfield Center for the Arts' Legion Room as part of the Chosen Bean Concert Series.

Their website says, "Since 2005, the Eelpout Stringers have played for audiences throughout the Midwest. Our music, described as 'traditional, old-timey, Americana,' is rich with character, ranging from tales of lost love to high-steppin' Civil War dance tunes. We like this music so much, we play it like it was writ'... full of life, warmth and joy. We hope you find yourself tappin' your toes and bobbin' your head to these happy numbers. That's our intent..."

The band tunes up at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $15 at the door. For more information, log into the great technological woods at www.chosenbeanconcerts.org.

By bedtime, the average Chill Fest celebrant will be so excited about winter blues being gone that they won't be able to hold their licker.