By Vanessa Broadbent
Powdery snow, a roaring fire, craft beer and live music – Baldy Mountain Resort’s First Chair Festival has it all.
The second annual festival marked the opening season of the ski hill and the cold didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the sunshine.
“This year we’re really trying to take it to a new level,” said Andy Foster, the hill’s general manager. “I want it to be something that’s going to be legendary, that in years to come everyone has that fear of missing out.”
Nicole Foster and her family have jumped the bandwagon early and didn’t want to miss out this year.
“We like to get up above the clouds, that’s the truth of it,” she said. “It’s such a family hill. It’s one of the only hills left, I think, that is run like this. It’s small, the kids can come to the bar, it’s just so special.”
After hitting the slopes, skiers and snowboarders could relax in the Baldy Bar, enjoy music provided by Jeff Piattelli and sample local beers and ciders.
Oliver’s Firehall Brewery was at the festival last year and didn’t hesitate to be a part of it again.
“We like to support the local hill and we were here last year and it was a lot of fun,” Dermott Hutton, the brewery’s “Big Kahuna” said.
“Everyone likes to have a beer after a long day of skiing or midday. Or, if you’re like my wife, it’s one run and then it’s beer time.”
Due to the lack of snow this month, the festival, and the opening of the hill, is a week later than it was last year.
“We had a lot of snow in early November, which got everyone excited. Then the rain came about two weeks ago, compressed our base, which is good and bad,” Foster said.
“It compressed our base so we have a solid base underground here that we can build on. At the same time, it sinks the snow level down a bit. We hoped for a bit more snow, and we did have a bit more snow last week which really helped us.”
Currently, the hills Sugar Lump and the Magic Carpet runs are open, but the opening of the Eagle Chair run is pending until the hill gets more snow.
The First Chair Festival runs for two more days, packed with free snowshoe tours, yoga, a fire pit, a disc gold competition and even fireworks.
On Saturday, Burton, Pentagon Boardshop, Canadian Ski Patrol and HooDoo Adventure will be onsite.
“We just try so people can experience everything we have,” Foster said. “If you’re looking for that unplugged feeling which is why I think nearly everyone got into skiing, that is what we have.”
A full schedule of events is available online.