Firsthand Report: Whitetail Great Outdoors Festival
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

It was starting to feel like winter on October 22, 2011 at the 11th Annual Great Outdoors Festival at Whitetail Resort. The two-day Festival, held at Whitetail near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, brings hundreds of families to the magnificent area known for its long, wide ski trails. The view takes my breath away, every time we approach it.

In little over a month, the Whitetail Express will shuttle skiers and boarders to the top of Whitetail’s 935-foot tall slopes. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

Sales of season passes and Advantage Cards were brisk. Inside the resort, and outdoors on the lawn, guests enjoyed a variety of great food and exhibits. There were pony rides, rock climbing, blacksmith exhibits, chainsaw carvers, reptile displays, a falconry exhibit, and much more. Music was provided by Moondog Medicine Show and Hicktown.

It is truly wonderful to come to this huge resort and be known by so many old friends. Thousands visit Whitetail each year, but like its sister resort Liberty, it is one big family, built around people who love the mountains and snow.

Whitetail is about a 90 minute drive from Washington, DC and Baltimore, but is a world away in atmosphere. It has a vertical drop of nearly 1,000 feet, with 23 trails, serving all levels of skiers and snowboarders. General Manager Don MacAskill told us they had 94 days of skiing last season, and hope to equal it this year. He said there are many new improvements, including lighting of the Fanciful Trail, more snowmaking guns, a new loading carpet on the EZ Rider Quad, a new patio and fire pit, and more.

Don MacAskill, Whitetail’s General Manager, sports a face paint of Whitetail’s logo. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

My husband Charles and I talked to some of the ski instructors, including Andrew Davis, who heads the ski and snowboard school. His wife Jenine also teaches. Other expert instructors include Bill Dietrich, who heads the Adaptive sports program (called the Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation), Bruce Rankin, Martin White, and others. They say the rental office has new, improved skis and boots which should help everyone perform better. Since I plan to ski, despite the hip I broke in March, I will try out the equipment and let you know if it helps.

Andy Davis, Ski School Director, and Mike Caselle, adaptive instructor, together with Bill Dietrich, Director of Two Top Mountain Sports Foundation, taught 170 adaptive lessons last season. Whitetail has an ongoing Wounded Warrior Project every weekday throughout the season. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

The instructors say they plan to enhance their Wounded Warrior and Adaptive Sports Programs this year. They instructed 150 warriors last season, and 170 adaptive skiers. Some of them suffered from autism, cerebral palsy, or blindness but they were able to enjoy the sports and the mountains. Many of the adaptive lessons are free or given at a discount rate. They can be offered because of contributions and the dedication of the instructors.

We will try to follow many of these programs and give you further reports as the season gets underway.

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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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