The 13th Annual 49ers Winter Fest is in full swing at Lake Tahoe.
The fun-filled weekend got off to a great start on Thursday when families of players, coaches and guests of the 49ers Foundation arrived and took part in a lively welcome reception. Winter Fest marks one of the biggest annual events for the 49ers Foundation, as last year’s gathering raised more than $1 million for local causes in the Bay Area.
Following the reception on Thursday, members of the Gold Rush also treated kids and adults alike to a fun night of s’mores by the fire pit.
Friday got off to a rousing start as long snapper Brian Jennings held an intense early-morning yoga session for a group of brave Winter Fest attendees including former 49ers quarterback Steve Bono. Jennings has been teaching yoga for a few years and was happy to share the experience with new friends.
“I had a great class,” Jennings said. “Enthusiastic crew, the room was nice and warm. We got the music cranking and we did yoga poses, it was great.”
Up next, former Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi joined dozens of people on the ice for a morning skating session.
“I was honored to be invited up here to be a part of the festivities,” Yamaguchi said. “It’s just been an all-around amazing weekend. And you feel good having fun, because you know it’s going to a great cause to support the 49ers Foundation.”
After the guests were served a hearty lunch on the sun-splashed patio next to the ice rink, broomball took center stage. With former NHL player Bret Hedican on hand, fullback Bruce Miller and running back Anthony Dixon joined kids and parents in an entertaining broomball game that featured people falling left and right.
Miller had a particularly spectacular fall, throwing his broom about 15 feet in the air as he dropped to his back.
“I don’t spend a lot of time on ice in general,” Miller said. “I have a newfound respect for hockey players and what they do out there on the ice. That’s pretty impressive.”
Miller and Dixon were teammates for the competition, but they were also vying for the title of best broomballer on the 49ers.
“Am I the greatest broomball player on the Niners?” Miller said. “There was only two of us and I think I edged Anthony out in broomballing.”
Upon hearing Miller’s assessment, Dixon happily defended his broomball game.
“Bruce did score, but I had saves,” Dixon said after spending a good part of the game between the pipes as a goalie. “So that kind of evens out, if you ask me. I also was a physical presence and I moved without the ball. I almost checked a couple people, I grabbed a couple guys.”
The afternoon featured simultaneous events at the Resort at Squaw Creek. While Miller, Dixon, Iupati, Jennings and coaches Jim Tomsula and Reggie Davis taught an eager group of youngsters during Football 101, 49ers alumni Keena Turner, Guy McIntryre, Steve Bono, J.J. Stokes, Dennis Brown and Greg Clark shared stories from their playing days in a fireside chat.
At Football 101, the players and coaches went over the basics of ball carrying and pass-catching before the room was converted into a makeshift football field for drills.
“You might think everyone is just running around out there during a football game,” Tomsula told his pupils. “The part everyone doesn’t get is just how smart you have to be.”
Meanwhile, the alumni fireside chat featured many anecdotes from the players’ rookie seasons. Stokes had a humorous recollection of his first time in the wide receiver meeting room with the 49ers, alongside players like Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens.
“I get in the big meeting room and everyone has an assigned seat,” Stokes said. “Rookies don’t know this, so I just sit in a seat. Then they go, ‘Get up, rook, leave.’ After I got up about 10 times, I found out I was in the seat right in front of the coaches. That was my first experience.”
Those two events were followed up by two more simultaneous ones, as the adults mixed wine and were judged by a panel and kids went downstairs for cupcake tasting.
Well, perhaps it wouldn’t be accurate to say it was just kids at the cupcake tasting. Iupati, Miller, Dixon, Scott Tolzien and Yamaguchi also tried out the sweets. Each participant was given five cupcakes from nearby Batch Cupcakery and asked to guess the flavors.
“I tried the first one it was a vanilla kind,” Iupati said. “The second one, she said was red velvet, but it seemed like it was chocolate to me. My favorite so far is No. 1, the vanilla one.”
But the highlight of the event came when Miller posed with a group of five youngsters for a picture, before they smashed five cupcakes on to his face.
For the wine mixing event, the drinks were blended with a mix of Syrah and Grenache-based wines. The six-person panel of judges for the wine mixes included General Manager Trent Baalke and Jenna and Mara York, but they were split 3-3 on which was better, the Syrah or Grenache.
“I can be bought,” Baalke joked to the crowd.
So 49ers Co-Chairman Dr. John York was called in to be the seventh, tie-breaking judge.
“The Grenache,” he declared.
Friday night’s schedule includes more wine tasting, dinner and two auctions, before rockstar juggler Mike Price closes out the night.
Stay tuned to 49ers.com for more coverage of 2013 Winter Fest throughout the weekend.
Tags: Anthony Dixon, Brian Jennings, Bruce Miller, J.J. Stokes, Jim Tomsula, John York, Mike Iupati, Reggie Davis, Winter Fest
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