As a soft winter snowfall came down on main street, Fernie residents lined the sidewalks, their Griz pins on their chests, their hands in the air and their voices raised in unison.
An explosion of cheering could be heard every minute or so as participants climbed into bed for the Griz Days Main Street Bed Races. The action got started as two opposing teams grabbed onto their respective beds, which had been decked out with wheels, and began to push. Snow flew into the air, screams escaped the mouths of participants and spectators alike, and the Bed Races were officially off to a stellar start.
A classic Griz Days favourite dating back to the 1970s, the Main Street Bed Races were once a staple of the annual winter festival. Over time, the races fell out of favour but for this year’s Griz Days, organizers wanted to bring them back to the public forum.
“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.
Unfortunately, one of the two racing beds ended up in pieces after a particularly vigorous turn about the track. Not to be fazed, organizers quickly changed the structure of the races, relying on time trials to announce the winner. Each team was allowed two runs around the track, with four teammates pushing the bed and a fifth perched on top. Times were recorded for both of the runs and the winners were calculated based on the combined times.
Some teams went full out with the Griz Days spirit, dressing up in various hilarious costumes. Undoubtedly one of the crowd favourites was the Elk Valley Hospital’s team, the Labouring Ladies. The four pushing the bed were wearing scrubs and hair nets while the fifth member was seen wearing a hospital gown and sitting in the baby delivery position. As they crossed the finish line, a baby miraculously appeared from underneath the hospital gown. The crowd roared with laughter at the creative and entertaining costume choices.
Other fan favourites were seen wearing animal onesies, vintage dresses, furs and hats and matching white and blue “Dad Shred” tee shirts.
Despite excellent efforts by all of the teams, the Urban Settler team had the fastest time and came in first place. Their combined time was 13.86 seconds. North Pole were the runners up, with a time of 14.43 seconds. Finally, the Unicorn Rockets came in third place with a finish time of 14.47 seconds.
Although the Bed Races were surely one of the biggest hits of the festival, there was another heritage event that was resurrected for this year’s Griz Days.
Chuckles of delight and frustration could be heard as Fernie residents took turns attempting to smoosh ski down main street. Long wooden skis with straps for four pairs of booted feet to slide into slugged their way down Second Avenue. Most participants quickly found out that smoosh skiing is not as easy as it looks.
A coordinated effort between all four people on the skis seemed to be paramount to success. Even the Griz gave it a try, with three ski patrollers as his team. Not long after the start of the race, the Griz fell to his knees, using a crawling technique to try and edge the skis forward. Despite the difficulty of the event, both participants and spectators had a great time laughing along the way.
It seemed as if the resurrected Griz Days heritage events certainly tapped into a feeling of nostalgia and fun. The activities captured the theme of this year’s Griz Days very well and will no doubt once again become a staple of the festival in the future.