Don't miss the First Chair Festival at Baldy
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A welcome back to the mountain party with free and fun events Dec. 8-10
Last season I played disc golf on snowshoes and spent hours carving terrain flanked by snow ghosts, with panoramic views of Okanagan wine country below. That was the year for the epic reopening of Baldy Mountain Resort, and this year myself and many others can't wait to see what the second season holds.
It all starts with Baldy Mountain Resort'sFirst Chair Festival (Dec. 8-10, 2017). It is a welcome back to the mountain and a preview of whats in store this season. I caught up with the resorts new general manager, Andy Foster, as he was on his way back from a meeting with the Rotary Club of Osoyoos.
You live in Vancouver, do you? Andy asked me over the phone. OK, I just moved from North Vancouver and my first comment would be #NoTraffic! My commute to work is 60 seconds.
We laughed, me mostly with the pain of knowing how busy the roads can get in my hometown, but also knowing how amazing my drive to Baldy was last season. The only time I had to stop on the trip from Oliver to the resort was when there were cows on the side of the road. My friend and I nicknamed them, free range alpine cattle.
Andy and his team have been working hard to deliver even more this season, on top of their 260 acres of graded runs, and the First Chair Festival will be the ultimate showcase of those efforts. The resort actually has 600 acres of skiable terrain.
"Since I came on six months ago, we really wanted to focus on enhancing the customer experience and adding value to what we already have, which is great terrain, a great mountain, and a great community," says Andy.
There will be a lot of family activities, including a kids slalom course on the magic carpet, a scavenger hunt, tobogganing, and hot chocolate around the fire pit. You can try out the disc golf competition (with an awards ceremony in the newly renovated Baldy Bar for apres), along with free guided snowshoeing, and tours with mountain hosts to share hidden gems.
"I want to make this a legendary event where people are like, Oh I cant miss the First Chair! year after year from now on. So, we really wanted to step it up a gear."
The Baldy Bar will have Firehall Brewery sampling and tastings, a Tumbleweed Distillery tasting, live music, and everyone can enjoy a fireworks display on the Saturday night (Dec. 9).
There's already a buzz building in Oliver, Osoyoos, Penticton, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and even across the border. With amazing deals on passes offered last year, everyone was hooked - and those who didn't make it up are sure to do so this year.
We want it to be that local mountain where you get that personalized service feel, you know, were focusing on showing that we have a great team and a happy staff, Andy says.
Andy hopes to convey that fun atmosphere that Baldy has always had, and let that continue for new generations.
The Baldy Bar will have a ribbon cutting and launch event during the Grey Cup on Nov. 26, and is sure to be fully hopping by the First Chair Festival.
Look for more special events at Baldy Mountain Resort this season for Christmas, New Years Eve, and don't forget all the cups! There's a Winemakers Cup, Slush Cup, Backcountry Cup, and more yet to come.
You're always welcome to come up and enjoy a hot chocolate around the fire pit, and the magic carpet will be free all season long. There really is nothing better than sitting around the fire after a full day on the slopes with friends and family, sipping a warm beverage as the alpenglow illuminates the mountains.
"Whether you ski or ride or not, there's something for everyone that weekend," Andy says. "We just really want it to be a lot of free stuff and a really great weekend."
If you're travelling to the area for the First Chair Festival and beyond, check out Baldy Mountain Resort's website in the coming weeks for some awesome Ski & Stay packages in partnership with some beautiful wine country hotels in Osoyoos.