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Ice rink in Maggie Valley opens next week

It’s a perplexing dichotomy. Maggie Valley has been portrayed as a town that rolls up the sidewalks once the leaf-lookers leave each fall, even though it’s home to two popular winter attractions — Cataloochee Ski Resort and Tony’s Tube World draw thousands each year to the western end of Haywood County — but now a third reason to visit the Valley will further test tourists’ appetite for winter wanderings.

“It’s just one of those things over the last few years that people have said, ‘I wish we had an ice skating rink, I wish we had something more to offer in the winter time, what can that be?’” said Nathan Clark, Maggie Valley’s town manager. 

Months ago, the town’s board of aldermen decided it would be an outdoor skating rink when it chose to use $35,000 in funding from the Tourism Development Authority to rent a synthetic ice surface. 

“It looks just like a regular ice skating rink,” said Clark. “You use the same skates you use for regular ice skating, and it actually cuts the surface.”

Clark said that he and Teresa Smith, executive director of the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce, visited a synthetic rink in Hendersonville just before Christmas. 

“If you’re a true ice skater, you’ll notice the difference, but if you’re not a pro ice skater, which most people in the region are not, and you’re looking for a chance to try something out you’ve seen on television your entire life, we’re going to give you that opportunity,” said Clark. “Hopefully, this will make people fans of ice skating forever more.”

That opportunity begins Friday, Feb. 8, and runs through Feb. 17 at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. A $20 family skate will be held on Feb. 13, and a free skate for kids will be held Feb. 11, but there will also be an off-icial “fun zone” for kids including a nine-hole putt-putt course, bounce houses and full-sized yard games.

Although both Cataloochee and Tony’s take advantage of whatever snowfall occurs in the region, they also have to manufacture their own snow to supplement that because Haywood County doesn’t usually remain frozen for months at a time.  Minor warm spells won’t affect the rink, according to Clark. 

“Our biggest hurdle is that it’s not going to be covered, so last Saturday when it rained two inches, that would be a situation where we wouldn’t be able to skate,” he said. “But if it was just a mist or steady drizzle, you could still skate on it. Temperature-wise, as long as it’s free and clear then the weather conditions have no bearing on it.” 

Clark said the TDA’s funding, which is revenue from the county’s occupancy tax, pretty much covered the entire cost of the rink and the activity zone, but that its operation wouldn’t be possible without assistance from the Maggie Valley Chamber. 

Weather permitting, the rink will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday though Friday and from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, and $5 for children under 12. In addition to the kids activity zone, concessions will also be available on site. For more information on hours, dates and activities, visit www.maggievalleync.gov

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