Free For All

Everyone knows that jalapeños are very hot and frozen lakes are very cold. Combine both with some wacky races, and you've got this Saturday's Fire and Ice Winter Festival at the Aurora Reservoir.

The highlight of the day will be the Polar Plunge Pentathlon, a series of goofy outdoor competitions including the Fruitcake Fling, the Snowshoe Steeplechase, the Great Maze Race and the hottest event of the day, a Hot Mouth Jalapeño Eat-Off, in which participants earn points by swallowing -- completely -- as many jalapeño peppers as they can in a short period of time. To cool off after that, the Pentathlon finishes with brave souls doing their most creative dive into the reservoir's chilly waters. "There are dozens of people out there who think it's a great idea to don their bathing suits, maybe a crazy costume, and plunge into a frozen reservoir in the middle of the winter," says Melissa Elliott, a spokesperson for the event. "But there are a lot more who prefer to stay fully clothed and just watch from the sidelines." As for the former, five hot tubs will be set up on shore for swimmers to warm up in.

The eclectic festival will also feature a climbing wall, an ice-fishing contest, a Jack Frost Kids' Tent full of arts and crafts, a performance by the Matthew Moon Band and dog-sledding rides with Siberian huskies.

The fun goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 8, at the Aurora Reservoir, 5800 South Powhaton Road. The Polar Plunge Pentathlon kicks off at 10, and the Polar Plunge takes place at noon. There is a $5 registration fee for the Pentathlon; parking and all other events are free.

"We'll have a big bonfire raging to keep you warm," promises Elliot. "There just isn't a whole heck of a lot else to do outside in February." Call 303-690-1286 or visit www.auroraevents.org for further information.