Winter festival returns for its fourth year

By Sarah Pridgeon

Now in its fourth year, the Sundance Winter Festival returns this year on Saturday, February 17 with all the chilly fun that visitors have come to expect and a new home for the bar stool racing.

“One of the big changes is that the bar stools will not be on the street. They will still be on Main Street, but they are going to be on the open lot where the North Pole Meat Locker used to be,” says organizer Reggie Gaylord.

“That will help with our deconstruction of the course, so we’ll have a little more time with that and we don’t have to try to get it off the street in such a short period.”

As always, the ski joring will be split into divisions for men between ages 18 and 34; men aged 35 and over; and women aged 18 and over, with the addition of the “Boarder Guns” category for snowboarders for the second year. Teams of two will enter together, with a rider on horseback pulling a skier or snowboarder along the snow course on Main Street.

The ski joring starts at 9 a.m., with contestants invited to register at City Hall from 7 a.m. or at the Longhorn Saloon on Friday evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is expected to go on all day, switching between divisions and long and short rounds at regular intervals.

The winners in each division will win a percentage of the jackpot taken from the entry fees.

The always-popular bar stool races have been moved to later in the day this year, now officially beginning directly after the ski joring at 5:30 p.m. – although Gaylord suspects they will start around an hour before that unless participation in the ski joring increases dramatically this year – with registration opening at noon and final calls for registration at 5:05 p.m.

“The bar stools are after all the ski joring. We’ll start with the Boarder class at 9 a.m. and then just progress as the day goes on and end with the bar stools,” says Gaylord.

“It’s mainly to keep the crowd together – some people didn’t make it over to watch the bar stools and we had that come back to us that they miss it every year. Also, there are a lot of people who like to watch construction of the new course because, in the open round, we tear the course down and build a new one.”

Prizes will be awarded to the winners, with a people’s choice award for the most unusual bar stool and contestant.

At regular intervals throughout the day, spectators might like to consider getting in on the action by signing up for the Wild Tube Race. As the calcuttas take place for the short rounds at around 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:45 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.,  brave contestants will be pulled down the course on an inner tube while holding a cup of your favorite beverage – the winner will be the racer with the most amount of drink left in their glass.

“Right at the starting line, where you see the tube set up, that’s where you pay your money and sign the registration form and waiver,” says Gaylord.

“You have to be 18 to ride it – every event in our festival, you have to be 18 to participate.”

Visitors can also expect plenty of refreshments throughout the day, Gaylord says.

“Several vendors are signed up and ready to go again, so we’ll have a lot of food and drinks and people out with their booths set up,” he says. Pizza, popcorn, smoked meats and local offerings are all expected to be available.

Meanwhile, the organizers are raising funds to help with preparations for the festival by defraying some of the expenses faced by the volunteers who build the ski joring and bar stool courses.

“We’re trying to alleviate some of the pressure of the wear and tear on the equipment,” Gaylord says.

“They were volunteering not only their time, but their equipment, so the costs were accruing beyond what we feel is viable, so we need to help them out.”

Questions about the festivals or donations can be directed to Gaylord at 283-2438.