Ski Fest Parties: formula for fun?

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Ski Fest Parties: formula for fun?

Postby JeffOYB » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:39 pm

WELCOME BACK EVERYONE! IT'S ALMOST THAT TIME OF YEAR!

(West Michigan just got pounded. We've had traces. The UP and northern MI both got dumped on bigtime already.)

So, our downstate MI region has one bigger organized ski event, a 15k freestyle on a golf course.

There are no other winter events in a 100-mile range.

Our little towns do have some parks with ski rentals that do night skiing from time to time or have a ski lesson day set up a year in advance that may or may not have snow on the day of the class, handfuls or less show up. On good snow days we do get 50 people out skiing in our parks.

For official activity, our parks basically board up in winter.

All the state's winter PR says "go up north to ski the chair lifts!" -- and there's not much of that PR as it is since it's so expensive of an activity (it's like saying "go yachting!"). The downstate public winter refrain is: "We hate winter! We hate snow! We're trying to survive with our spin classes." But privately my hunch is that hundreds are out there on their nowaxers enjoying the landscape on their own or with a friend.

So in that setting some friends and I have been trying to promote simple trail skiing events for the past few years. As I've posted many times here, we seek out superior trails and have high level ski experiences: we've attracted 2 "real" Nordic skiers in 5 years and over 100 mtbikers who love skiing the trails they ride. (The skiers all bike, too, but do not like skiing trails. They drive up north or ski at the one groomed golf course.)

During the summer our region is experiencing a boom in "local spirit" fests and urban fun parties. The Detroit "Slow Roll" bike party has 5,000 riders every Monday. Our own urban bike party in Lansing, which I organize, has 50 riders a week, 600 Facebook members. Now that it's cold the urban bike people are wondering what they'll do come winter.

We want to try to change the SE/central downstate attitude to winter in our vicinity. To show them that it's not a case of misery and "nothing to do." (All the newscasters talk bad about every local snowfall. Any thaw is called "better weather ahead!" I don't know how the snowbelt west-siders treat it, tho.) So far only the runners keep having "fun" on the trails with their shoe-cleats. The bikers haven't thought to consider skiing, by and large. The fatbikes are tempting them strongly.

There are basically no ski shops downstate. REI does sell a bunch of nowax packages, though. Thankfully such gear is pretty darn good these days for delivering simple fun outings. But there's overall a weird relation to snow and winter around here.

Our gang is working on developing a low-overhead model for a Winter Ski Fest fun time that we hope could be readily repeated, without too much work for any sector involved. We've approached a few parks already and management is way into it.

On the morning of the event the idea so far is that the following would show up: *a ski demo/rentals truck; *other snowsports/snowbike vendors; *food truck; *beer truck; *sound system; *bonfires; *popup tents. They'd set up at the base area and also out on the trails in a couple places.

The night before we might have a snowmobile take a pass around the system. We have access to a singletrack groomer for fatbikes -- no grooves -- that we could use to generally smooth things out.

The trails would have three options, beg/int/adv, in about 1km loops: small but interesting, looping close to the base area so that everyone is mostly in eyesight of each other. Beginners can see Adv skiers in action.

There would also be a longer 3-mile loop that we'd send groups out on hourly with a guide.

The two venues we're considering right now have these trail scenarios naturally occurring near the base area.

We would offer lessons near the base.

We would sell tickets for this then let the vendors make their own money. Tickets costing about $10-20 sold both online and onsite. They might get a bev ticket with entry.

There might also be sledding and ice-skating within eyesight. We might put a twisty bike course out on a pond (2 ponds in eyesight) for the studded bike tire gang. ...There's more winter bike commuting around here than XC skiing, it seems.

So there'd be a lot of action swirling around. Partiers can watch. Funsters can swing thru the base and grab a bev or snack now'n'then. It'll be socializing with some skiing and such mixed in.

Our local downtown already has beer fests each season: this would be somewhat like moving the fest out a mile to a near-city-center park.

We also want to situate a similar fest out in a huge rural chunk of state land where the mtbikers have extensive trails they love. There are hundreds of miles of mellow mtbike trail in our region, but nobody really has promoted skiing them. It's just done in bits'n'pieces, totally ad hoc.

Our message is: trail skiing, sociable skiing, exploring what the new nowax midlength packages can easily do.

These fests would have sizable PR. We would plan for two dates: main date plus raindate a week later to be sure to catch the snow.

So any chance this might work? Does it sound like fun? What are major problem areas you notice?
Jeff Potter
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