This year’s Griz Days will see the return of a number of events that were hugely popular in past versions of the winter festival.
“We kept hearing that people missed many of the old time Griz Days events so this year we have reinstated a number of them,” said event coordinator Lori Bradish.
This year the Griz Days Bed Races will finally return to the streets of Fernie. In this event, “teams of four plus a rider will careen down main street to beat out their competitors.” Although this event was popular in the 1970s, it hasn’t been seen in a Griz Days celebration for decades.
Another old time favourite event is the Smoosh Ski Race where teams of four complete an obstacle course while being attached all together to a long pair of wooden skis.
“Back in the ‘70s these events were the staple of Griz Days,” said Bradish. “They were open to anyone who wanted to participate and that’s the way we are going to run them today.”
According to Bradish, these events are keeping with the theme of this year’s winter festival which is “Spirit of Griz – Celebrating our Winter Heritage.”
Although some old events will be brought back to life, there are also some new events and changes to the festival line up to look forward to as well.
Kootenay based snow sculptors Peter Vogelaar and Lesley Mayfield will be recreating everyone’s favourite burly mountain man out of a giant block of snow this year. On March 7 they will be working their snow magic to carve the Griz on Second Avenue.
“These sculptors are incredible,” added Bradish. “They have been sculpting for more than 20 years and have travelled the world with their art. We are so lucky to have them come to Griz Days this year.
Vogelaar and his team of snow artists have travelled all over the globe and participated in snow sculpting competitions in Japan, Italy and Quebec. While he is in Fernie, Vogelaar will be leading a snow sculpture workshop for local artists as a chance for artists to try their hand at something new and creative.
This workshop will be held in the plaza of Fernie Alpine Resort on Sunday, March 8 and the public will have a chance to view and vote for their favourite sculptures after the infamous Dummy Downhill event.
Another change to this year’s festival is the time of the parade. The parade is now being heralded as the Light Up The Night Parade and will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 7. Parade participants are encouraged to keep the theme in mind when decorating by adding light up elements to their floats, bikes, horses or strollers.
This year’s Griz Days celebrations promise to be a perfect blend of nostalgia and winter fun.