Griz is the snow equivalent of Huey the surf god who creates great swells.
He is a giant heavily-bearded man who wanders the mountains around Fernie firing a huge musket into the clouds. Griz is the reason why Fernie averages 9 meters of fresh British Columbian powder every year.
The town of Fernie holds the Griz Days festival on the first Friday – Saturday – Sunday in March to celebrate the legend every year.
This year’s event was the 40th anniversary, and Griz was working overtime in the lead up to the celebrations. In the 8 days prior to the festival, Griz had created 139cm of powder on the mountain. Skiers and snowboarders tore up Fernie’s five giant bowls all week before heading into town for more festivities.
Fernie in British Colombia, Canada is a town that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The town’s heroes aren’t celebrities or rich property developers. In fact, your skiing or bacon eating ability is more important in Fernie than your bank balance.
Dustin (A Fernie local who refused to give his second name) took out the Griz Days bacon eating contest, smashing back 1.5kg of bacon in 8 minutes. It was a brave performance given there didn’t seem to be any cardiac surgeons cheering the bacon eaters on at the brewery. That’s just how they roll at Griz Fest.
Like all good community festivals, there’s something for everyone. Parent’s race toddlers, there’s a Junior Griz competition and scavenger hunt for the 6-12 year olds, and a bridge (card game for you young folk) event for the seniors. There’s also plenty to do for the partiers.
Friday afternoon’s pub crawl kicks off the festival for the party animals. Yukon Blond played on Saturday night with an outdoor concert in town, and then of course there’s the Extreme Griz competition.
This involves a group of heavily bearded men doing manly things like throwing axes, carrying heavy logs, drinking beer, and eating pancakes at speed. The Extreme Griz king is crowned on Saturday afternoon and then he leads the street parade. This activity brings all the town’s demographics together. Pre-school kids march behind the Fernie Ghostrider Hockey team. They are followed by the town’s GLBTI community.
Sunday’s highlight is the dummy downhill. This involves people constructing sleds with dummies attached, sending them down steep hills and then over a massive jump. It’s a charity event and competitors are judged for their creativity, speed, and carnage off the big jump. Sometimes the spectators have had a couple of beers.
Monday’s activities for the sensible involve sleeping in. I pity the poor ski bums who have to wake early and work in the rental store, get the lifts turning, or wait breakfast tables in this very cool town.
Book your accommodation early if you want to attend Griz Days. The town is absolutely packed for the weekend.
Join Big Adventure Club for our 2018 Fernie ski tour. (Did anyone notice the shameless product placement just then?)
Feature image: Griz Street Parade in Fernie, BC. Credit: Toursim FernieLast updated on Oct 9, 2019
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