The Whitetail woods were a riot of gold and red. The ski slopes were a beautiful, well-groomed green. And the sun shone on hundreds of happy visitors for most of Saturday, October 23, 2004, as Whitetail held its annual Outdoors Festival. Clouds began to move in Saturday night, so Saturday was the best day to attend the Festival.
The Festival was a great success! Everyone present hoped it heralded the start of a terrific new ski season. Whitetail and its sister areas - Liberty and Roundtop - want to open the day after Thanksgiving, weather permitting. Cold and snow are predicted for this winter, so expectations are high.
Until then, the Outdoors Festival (like the snow-filled Rail Jam held October 9-10 at Ski Roundtop) serves to anticipate what is coming soon. At Whitetail, the ski swaps were thriving. The music was excellent blue grass, performed by “Ernie Bradley and Grassy Ridge.” The chairlift rides were smooth and beautiful - what a pity there was no snow to ski down! But, what a beautiful autumn panorama spread out beneath us.
At ground level, there were too many activities to list. The ones that caught my fancy were the archery, dog sleds (the beautiful huskies were pretty tired in the heat), the puppies from the Humane society; the 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Club, the pony rides, the barrel train, huge snakes from the Keystone Reptile Club, Belgian Horse Wagon Rides, chainsaw carving and on and on. I’m telling you, you don’t see exhibits like this in the cafeteria or near the lifts during the season!
One of my favorite attractions had nothing to do with skiing, but a lot to do with nature and the environment - The Birds of Prey Exhibit by Eric Schriver. The man is a hoot - no pun intended. He brought some magnificient birds, including his eight and a quarter pound Golden Eagle, his Red Tail Hawk, and Two Falcons. Eric’s talk was hysterical, and provided a valuable nature lesson (do you realize how many birds are dying from pesticides and West Nile Virus?) The next time you ski down the slopes, and watch the hawks circling overhead, think of Eric and his Birds of Prey.
A great festival, which represented an enormous amount of work and participation from communities close to Whitetail and far away. Congratulations to General Manager Don MacAskill; Marketing Director Chris Black; and all the others who worked hard to assemble this. It proves a ski area can bring together thousands of people of all ages and walks of life. They enjoyed a beautiful autumn event, even if not all will return to ski.
Those who do return will see more new features at Whitetail. Some are especially designed for younger skiers, and those just trying the terrain parks for the first time. There will be an incubator terrain park, a Magic Carpet Lift, and a Kids Mountain Facility. The 1.4 million dollars in new improvements extend to the other areas of Whitetail used by those who are older and more experienced on the snow. And, the tubing area will be bigger and faster than ever.
So, get out the winter clothes, pack the car, and start dreaming of snow!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.
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