Firsthand Report: Splendor in the Leaves - the 9th Annual Great Outdoors Festival at Whitetail
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

Once again, the weather was splendid for an outdoor festival! About 3,000 people who attended Whitetail Resort on October 24-25, 2009 agree. Saturday morning did not look promising - the rain pelted the area, as it did in the Washington region. But, nature smiled on Mercersburg, Pennsylvania in the afternoon. Large crowds gathered to see the magnificent leaves and slopes, ride the chairlift, enjoy the events, music, food, and crafts, and visit with old friends.

We are all pumped up for the upcoming ski season. If the predictions for a cold, snowy winter hold true, Whitetail and the other two Snow Time Resorts - Liberty and Roundtop - migh open by December 5. If there is an extended cold snap, they may even be able to open earlier. All three areas have excellent snowmaking equipment, and keep adding to it each year. All they ask is a little cooperation from Mother (or Father?) Nature.

General Manager Don MacAskill with Whitetail’s newest grooming machine. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

At the Whitetail Festival, we saw many old friends. It is amazing how close we have come over the years. But, that is the nature of the snowsports industry - cold snow brings warm friendships. General Manager and President Don MacAskill is fit and ready to go. He says, “our preseason sales have been strong, and we are very optimistic regarding the long range forecast for the upcoming winter season.” He is pleased with a number of new improvements and upgrades, costing 1.7 million dollars. They include 24 new fan guns, a new 400-foot long Magic Carpet Lift for beginners, great improvements in the freestyle areas, and the new chairlift up to the main terrain park. There is also a brand new groomer, to prepare the snow in the parks. It is amazing how much work and equipment goes into a snow resort!

Buddy Hauk, chief Mountain Host at the petting zoo. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

At Whitetail, we also saw hard working Marketing Coordinator Matt See, and the friendly and colorful Buddy Hauk - the man still in charge of the Mountain Hosts. We also spent time with the ski and safety patrols, who say all three areas are increasing their emphasis on mountain safety. So, reckless skiers and snowboarders - be warned!

At the Festival, the ski swap and retail stores were in full swing, and sold a lot of merchandise. I even gave in, and bought a new pair of Nordica rear-entry boots. They seem comfortable, and I should be able to get in and out of them myself. But, I am worried about the weight. We’ll see.

Matt See, Marketing Director. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

In the cafeteria and outside in the sun, the exhibits were in full swing. Inside, in addition to major displays by the Conococheague history museum and Keystone reptile displays (the snakes are bigger each year, but will soon hibernate) were many local crafts vendors. Outside entertainment included country music group Possum Holler, chairlift rides, golf tips, falconry, the Penn State Woodsmen Team (in “Kiss my Axe” T-shirts), snowmaking tours, and for children (and adult children) 4H pony rides, a petting zoo, and many other activities. Whew! Lots of hard work by lots of people, but it paid off. There is so much to do at Whitetail in the fall, while we all wait for the white stuff to bless us!

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About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

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