GALLERY: Fernie hosts 42nd annual Griz Days

Elk Valley residents don Canadian tuxedos for annual winter festival

Griz Days was truly a winter festival this year with an extreme cold warning in effect for much of the weekend as wind chill values plunged to -35C.

That didn’t stop hundreds of people turning out to watch the procession of floats through downtown Fernie at the parade on Saturday.

The 42nd annual festival was themed “Griz Days Gone Denim” and featured many staple events as well as some new additions.

Earlier Saturday, golfers donned their Canadian tuxedos and furs to hit the Fernie Golf Club for the inaugural Grizzly Snow Golf Open.

They played six holes using a tennis ball and a range of sporting equipment, including a tennis racquet, hockey stick and baseball bat.

Conditions were very different to the first snow golf tournament held at the club in the 1970s, with a photo provided by a current member showing a green course.

“It was done in the past and we thought well, we should resurrect snow golf again,” said club president Gord Goodman.

Dave Weber and his son-in-law Aaron Schmidt were among the first to tee off, proclaiming themselves the best looking team on course.

They golf during the summer but had never tried playing in the snow before.

“It will be interesting hitting a tennis ball with a golf club,” said Weber.

The Griz Days festivities continued with the Raging Elk Dummy Downhill at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) on Sunday.

This year’s event raised funds for the Canadian Cancer Society and attracted 18 entries, ranging from a Donald Trump lookalike on a porcelain toilet to Lego- and Star Wars-inspired dummies and a giant joint that smoked as it careered down the ramp near Timber Chair.

Everett Gollat and his dad Ben spent five days making a model jet using old bike boxes and wood, and dubbed the “Super High Flying Jet Ski”.

“I think it’s going to go over the big jump and go to the bottom of the hill,” said Everett confidently prior to the event.

The six-year-old wants to be a pilot when he grows up and appears to have the principles of flying down pat, with his dummy receiving the Best Air award.

Oliver King’s dummy also made an impression when it flew off the ramp and the chair it was sitting on imploded upon landing.

“Bottlehead” took Oliver about three hours to make using an old football and bottles with his dad Casey and younger sister Clover.

“He really, really wanted to enter this year,” said mom Melanie MacVoy. “We look forward to it (Griz Days) every year.”

Blair and Lynn Craig are Dummy Downhill veterans, having entered every year since the event’s inception more than 40 years ago.

Inspired by FAR’s avalanche control crew, their entry this year was a helicopter filled with stuffed bears carrying dynamite.

“It’s buddy bear and his buddies and they’re going up to blast the Lizard headwall and get the Lizard Bowl open on a powder morning,” said Blair.

“We’ve got the best distance a few times. It’s mostly just for the fun and the thrill of dropping the dummy off the top there. (We) can’t get enough of that, it’s really fun.”

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Revellers brave the extreme cold to watch the lumberjack show at Station Square on Saturday. Photos by Phil McLachlan and Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

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