Snowfest Ski Hill fundraiser Nov. 23

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

The snow has already started falling and Misery Mountain Ski Area in Peace River is gearing up for their upcoming winter season.

It also means it’s time for the ski hill’s annual Snowfest fundraising event.

Snowfest is the ski hill’s largest fundraising event and is crucial to helping pay for maintenance and making snow.

“In general local ski hills all struggle,” says Donald Lee, treasurer of the Peace River Ski Club.

Lee points out the Edmonton Ski Club wasn’t able to operate at all for the last two seasons, and the 108-year-old club only reopened its doors this year thanks to $1.1 million in municipal and provincial funding.

“This is a common situation,” says Lee.

“You have to think of a ski hill as a recreational facility. They don’t pay for themselves. Whether an arena, curling rink or swimming pool, the only way that can happen is if municipalities and local people say yes, we want to have this in the region or community and we want to support it with tax dollars.”

Lee says while indoor recreational facilities are important in the north, they aren’t the only type of recreation people need.

“We also need [to] consider that we have outdoor recreational facilities and that’s important also,” he says.

Lee says Misery Mountain’s non-profit board is able to cover about half of their annual costs with what he calls operational revenue, like the sale of lift tickets and season passes.

“We have to come up with about half through other means. Some of that is fundraising events like Snowfest, some of that is money support and in kind support from our local municipalities. We could not possibly operate without it,” Lee says.

For instance, it’s thanks to support from local companies that the hill has been able to start pre-season maintenance and make some improvements.

Lee says Rod Debolt of Northern Cross Oilfield Services donated a D6 Cat for a few days and helped rework the entrance to the Plunge Feature Park.

“I’m just so excited this year we’re going to have lower part of the hill to really make use of it,” says Lee.

Ruel Concrete Ltd. helped with some equipment maintenance, and Andrick Enterprise cleared the first snow from the parking lot.

However, the ski hill could still use more help from volunteers.

Lee says he sees a “societal shift” away from volunteering, which is making it harder to fill positions. Right now the board has an open position that needs to be filled, and Lee says the non-profit can always use help with tasks like selling raffle tickets.

Overall, though, Lee says many people support the hill even if they don’t ski themselves anymore. He adds many people tell him they have fond memories of skiing the hill and just want to make sure it stays in the community.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he says.

Misery Mountain Ski Area offers the most vertical descent in northern Alberta and 26 different runs, which visitors can access from the two T-bars and the quad chairlift. The ski area also has snowshoe trails and a terrain park.

Lee says the hill will try to open as always on the first day of school holidays for Christmas, but will open the weekend before, if possible.

Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale for the Snowfest dinner and dance at the ski chalet on Nov. 23. This year’s Snowfest features catering by Mr. Mike’s restaurant and music by the Brad Lynch Band.

“It’s a really good band. People loved them last year and we got them back again this year,” Lee says.

“It’s going to be wonderful time.”

There will be silent and live auctions at Snowfest. The lucky winners of Misery Mountain’s annual truck raffle will be announced. Participants entered for the chance to win either a brand new truck, a new Polaris 450 ATV, or $1,000 cash. First prize is the choice of a Ford, Dodge or Chevy crew cab 4×4 valued at over $60,000.

The raffle is sponsored by Go Auto Peace River and Mighty Peace Chevrolet Buick and GMC, and only 2,500 raffle tickets are sold.

Tickets for Snowfest are available at the ski hill or at Style Ryte cleaners.

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