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Beat the Bitter returns for fourth year

2019 introduces Centennial Park “Warm UP” and Igloo Jam concert
The Minneapolis-based Pop ROCKS will perform at North Liberty’s fourth annual Beat the Bitter festival, as part of the new Igloo Jam presented by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union. The 21-and-over concert will take place in a heated tent Friday, Feb. 1, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Early bird tickets can be purchased at beatthebitter.com (photo courtesy of Time Music Agency)

NORTH LIBERTY– North Liberty's frosty festival returns next year with more programming than ever before. From Sunday, Jan. 27, to Saturday, Feb. 2, Beat the Bitter 2019 will offer both adults and families plenty of activities during the bleakest time of the year.
"When it started four years ago, it really was about winter games and night life cheer," cited Jillian Miller, community engagement coordinator for the City of North Liberty. "But as we've expanded and had support of local businesses, we can't deny that there's tons of young families in the community, not only in North Liberty but in the surrounding area, so we think that Beat the Bitter can be something for everyone."

Wintry Warm UP

Presented by Collins Community Credit Union, the Wintry Warm UP will kick off the week with an entirely new day of activities Sunday, Jan. 27, at Centennial Park. From 12 to 4 p.m., the family-friendly event will feature the North Liberty Police Department's Freezin' for a Reason Polar Plunge, chainsaw carving, three hours of horse-drawn trolley rides and, as the name implies, a spectacular kite display.
The City of North Liberty is partnering with Great American Kites & Events out of Kansas City, which holds an annual Color of the Wind event in Clear Lake, to bring that atmosphere to the Corridor. Dozens of larger-than-life characters will fill the skies in an event Miller describes as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade equivalent for kites.
Wintry Warm UP will also include walk-up activities such as kite pull races, as well as an hourly candy drop from the kites.
"We're really excited," Miller remarked. "These kites do really well with windy conditions, so we're really looking forward to that new tradition that would kick off Beat the Bitter."

Affiliated events

As introduced earlier this year, local businesses will again host their own affiliated events the week.
"Throughout the week, the combination of the Beat the Bitter core events and affiliated events, there's really something for everyone, everyday," Miller noted.
Some affiliated events require registration while others do not. Information can be found at beatthebitter.com and the festival's Facebook page.
The Penn Meadows ice rink also returns this season with open skating hours from 2 to 9 p.m.

Fire & Ice Friday

Presented by GEICO, Fire & Ice Friday takes place Feb. 1, from 3 to 7 p.m. with a greater variety of family-friendly programming than ever. In addition to the ice rink, horse-drawn trolley rides, bonfire s'mores and ice carving, Penn Meadows Park will feature a 40-foot by 80-foot heated tent to house a half-dozen nonprofit organizations hosting crafts and hands-on kids' activities and give families a chance to warm up. Face painting, a silent disco and an LED dance floor will provide even more free family programming under the Penn Meadows Park pavilion.
Plenty of fire performers will be on hand this year with the addition of the Eastern Iowa Circus Collective, to entertain with fire eating, breathing and dancing. "Anytime that night that someone's at Fire & Ice, they should be able to see a fire performance basically every half hour while they're there," Miller said.

Igloo Jam

The Snuggie Crawl remains one of the most popular aspects of the festival's adult programming, and with a limit of 365 tickets, it sold out in just two days. For those who missed out, however, the Beat the Bitter committee is introducing a major new event in 2019, presented by the University of Iowa Community Credit Union (UICCU).
Once tent activities of Fire & Ice Friday wrap up, the shelter will transform into an Igloo Jam concert and bar, open to 300 ticket holders. Pop ROCKS, a party cover band from Minneapolis, will entertain locals with hits from various eras. Described as the music of a DJ, the theatrics of a Broadway musical and the live energy of an arena rock extravaganza, the tribute group wears costumes to match the performers of each song they cover. Open to ages 21 and older, the concert will run from 8:30 until 10:30 p.m. The ticket price includes a first drink and LED wrist band.
"It will be a fun atmosphere– a lot color and lights and music," Miller said. "We're hoping this will be a night that they definitely won't forget, and bring it to the same level of popularity as the Snuggie Crawl has grown to be."

Winter Games

Presented by Scheels, Saturday, Feb. 2, will see the signature Winter Games take place at Penn Meadows Park. This includes the 5K-ish Obstacle Run, KICK Winter in the SnowBALL, the returning Freeze Your Bags Off, and broomball and curling tournaments on the ice rink.
Newly introduced for 2019 will be the Burrrrito Breakfast in the heated tent, which benefits the North Liberty Lions Club from 8 a.m. to noon. This will provide a cozy outlet for those wishing to cheer on game participants while supporting the Lions Club.

Early registration

Early bird registration is ongoing for Beat Bitter, but prices for Winter Games and the Igloo Jam will increase Jan. 1. "Early buying from the public definitely helps us plan the best we can, as the festival just tries to break even with the support of the sponsors and registration from the public to make all this come to life," Miller explained. "The sooner we know that people are planning to come, the better we're able to plan and bring all the programming that we can afford to the public."
To register and see the full schedule of North Liberty's winter festivities, visit beatthebitter.com, or follow its Facebook page.
"We don't want people sitting on the couch," Miller insisted. "We want them out and about and enjoying their community, supporting local businesses and just having something to look forward to."