Arctic Valley festival boasts dummy-tossing, kayak sledding
Come April 5, the volunteers at Arctic Valley Ski Area are going to crank the “Community” and “Fun” dials to 11, celebrating the end of the ski season with their 10th annual Merry Marmot Festival. The following weekend, Arctic Valley’s ski operations will close down for the year.
The festival looks a little different every year, with organizers getting together in February to brainstorm new events. But you can count on a few sure things: Ski racing — including a dual downhill slalom so you can compete side-by-side with your friends, and an uphill/downhill race to test endurance – plus plenty of other quirky, family-friendly events.
There’ll be fat tire bike races (including an uphill/downhill loop option and a “mass start” downhill that loses 900 feet of elevation over the 1.5-mile course), and the unlikely downhill kayak race.
“[The kayak race] is fast, and a little dangerous,” says Rich Todd, Arctic Valley’s director of marketing. You can sit on top of your kayak or climb into it, then zip straight downhill from about 100 yards up.
There will be milder events too, including tubing and snowshoe races for kids and adults. (Todd says that snowshoe obstacles like the Bamboo Forest and Jell-o Jump are a hit with kids.) There’ll also be a downhill costume parade, and a free, all-day snowman-building contest.
Swag could save your life
Another notable event is the Freakin’ Beacon Booty Search. Arctic Valley’s ski patrol will bury several avalanche beacons all over the mountain; anyone with their own beacon can ski around to find the buried beacons, getting some potentially lifesaving beacon practice in at the same time. Find one, turn it in, and you get a prize in return.
And, of course, the Merry Marmot festival will come dressed with all the other details that make a great outdoor party: live music, barbecue food, swag donated by local sponsors, and a Downhill Dummy Launch at the end of the day. Build your dummy on skis, launch it off a huge ramp, and hope the crowd reaction makes you a winner.
Snow’s the word
As this issue was going to press, January’s impressive warm streak had decimated the snowpack and forced Arctic Valley to close down operations for a couple of weekends due to impassable roads. But when asked about the prospects for the Merry Marmot festival, Tod
d was optimistic.
“We always find a way to make it work,” he said. “This warm stretch will not last forever … Sometimes the snow just comes a little later in the year.”
Get the latest updates on this year’s Merry Marmot festival at www.skiarctic.net and on Facebook. And of course, weather permitting, you can still head up to scope out (and ski!) the terrain a little early. Lift tickets are $32, with discounts for seniors, active military and students. When open, tube park tickets cost $15 for a 1.5-hour session.