Beat the Bitter Offers Free and Safe Events Folks Can Count on this Winter

North Liberty’s Beat the Bitter returns for its sixth year with safe activities to look forward to and brighten up this long and isolated winter. The schedule for Jan. 30 through Feb. 6, 2021, is now available at All programming is free. Highlights include free family fun and fireworks in Penn Meadows Park, a virtual Snuggie Crawl, and a twist on the annual 5K-ish Obstacle Run.

The festival is offering an array of free family fun activities that allow for easy social distancing. On Jan. 30 and 31, visitors to Penn Meadows Park can follow the North Liberty Library’s two-sided Winter Storywalk, featuring the newly published book The Snow Dancer and the 1962 classic The Snowy Day, admire nine ice sculptures in the Ice Sculpture Walk along the park’s trail, and end the weekend enjoying the festival’s annual 15-minute winter fireworks display presented by GEICO Careers at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31. Organizers request that per the Johnson County mandate, attendees wear a face covering while taking in the weekend’s programming and maintain at least six feet of social distance between households. Details are available at

Additionally, Beat the Bitter and the North Liberty Library are giving away 200 activity kits to keep kids busy with supplies for hot cocoa, wintery luminaries, and other craft projects. Individuals can acquire a kit by making a guaranteed reservation now or pick up kits available at the Community Center the week of Jan. 25, as supplies last. Kits will also be reserved for North Liberty Community Pantry patrons and distributed by NLCP.

As always, some of the Beat the Bitter fun is reserved just for adults. The Snuggie Crawl presented by Collins Community Credit Union is open to everyone to join in the comfort of a Snuggie from their couch on Saturday, Feb. 6. But this is not just another Zoom event. The Snuggie Crawl will be on Gather Town, a virtual space where participants’ avatars can move about to virtual bar stops, chat with avatars located nearby, and play games with other attendees. Registration is free and open now at The first 100 orders will be mailed a pair of Beat the Pandemic face masks. Registration to the virtual crawl includes the Gather Town Snuggie Crawl 2021 link and tips for how to use the digital platform, access to virtual games, and a free Chomp delivery code for takeout from a restaurant partner.

Fans of Beat the Bitter’s annual 5K-ish Obstacle Run in Penn Meadows Park are encouraged to participate in an alternative course. Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 those who complete the wintry 5K-ish loop will receive both a commemorative 2021 medal and 15% off an entire We Run purchase when they stop into the local running store at the route’s finish. Participation is free. Download the route or join the leaderboard for some healthy competition on Strava.

And if competition is what you seek, register your quarantine pod for the Idita Pod Race. This scavenger hunt will be a 90-minute dash around North Liberty on Feb. 6 to locate secret spots, take photos, solve riddles, and score points. Space is limited so sign up at

Beat the Bitter is organized by the North Liberty Community Betterment Group, a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Special thanks to festival sponsors GEICO Careers, Collins Community Credit Union and the City of North Liberty. Additional thanks to Scheels, GreenState Credit Union, Hills Bank, Think Iowa City, Diventures, South Slope Cooperative Communications, Junge Ford BMW of North Liberty, Hy-Vee, Anne & Ashley Real Estate, Unique Events, Z102.9, BDL Transportation for their generous support in the past that has put Beat the Bitter in the position to be able to pivot its usual programming and offer free fun in this difficult year.