Huge snowfall kickstarts Griz Days

Fernie Chamber of Commerce hails 41st annual event a success.

The legend of the Griz lives on after the mythical mountain man delivered about 50cm of snow to Fernie in time for the town’s annual winter festival.

On Saturday, residents awoke to the streets and cars buried in snow, with Fernie Alpine Resort recording 47cm in 24 hours.

Flurries continued to fall that afternoon as hundreds of people lined 2nd Avenue for the popular Griz Days street parade.

“The Griz delivered,” said Fernie man Jeff Etue as he waited for the parade to start.

The Etue family has attended Griz Days every year for the past decade and said the lumberjack show and Dummy Downhill were among their favourite events.

“The kids love it, there are lots of great events and it’s a great community atmosphere,” said Jeff.

For Mayor Mary Giuliano, it was the most snowfall she could recall during Griz Days.

“The Griz is supposed to cause the snow to fall when he shoots his musket, obviously he was shooting it a lot this past weekend,” she said.

“Visitors loved all the snow as it really made for a tremendous skiing and visitor experience, and it didn’t seem to deter the permanent residents from taking in all of the events despite the amount of snow on the city streets.”

Mayor Giuliano enjoyed a front row seat for the street parade, riding the Studebaker fire truck along with both the citizen and volunteer of the year, and the first Extreme Griz winner, Willard Ripley.

“The kids loved Willard Ripley in his mountain man outfit,” she said.

“I don’t think there is one highlight in the many events. In reality, the entire festival is wonderful.”

There were about 30 parade entrants, which were judged on their creativity, originality, use of theme and overall effect.

FIRE – Fernie Adaptive Snow Program was awarded first place followed by the Elk Valley Dolphin Swim Club in second and Fernie Brewing Company in third.

With many events selling out, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patty Vadnais hailed the 41st annual event a success.

“Station Square on Saturday night was busy with activity from 4:00 to 9:30 p.m., this was great to see,” she said.

“We’re running final numbers now but this could be our biggest refreshment garden ever.

“We also sold out of Griz pins (4000), I know this hasn’t happened in the previous three years.”

Profits from the refreshment garden will be split between the Eirin Amundsen Memorial Pavilion and covering Griz Days expenses, while Rotary will make a donation to the Fernie Childcare Society and Fernie Food Bank using the proceeds from Griz pin sales.

This year’s festival featured a number of new events and Vadnais hinted many could return.

“We will look to do the Griz Magic event again as it was a full house on Friday night, as well as the Junior Griz Training Ground,” she said.

“The Pub Crawl and Extreme Griz Competition will also be back.”


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