Those who have spent a winter or two in the Flathead know the feeling: The mercury drops, the snow piles up and the sun stays hidden for days. And as the gloves are pulled on and the shovel comes out of the garage, dreams of sunny days on Flathead Lake or hiking through Glacier Park take over.
While the warm days are still months off, the people and businesses in Martin City, Coram and Hungry Horse have a remedy for that monotonous, cooped-up feeling.
The 33rd annual Cabin Fever Days run from Feb. 11 through Feb. 13 in the Canyon, offering locals and visitors a chance to mingle during concerts, arm wrestling, beard contests, kids events and, of course, the world-famous barstool ski races.
“We expect a lot bigger event this year,” said Greg Voorhees, president of the Trapline Association. Voorhees also runs Packers Roost in Coram.
And while Cabin Fever Days is an opportunity to shake off the winter blues, it’s also a time to support important Canyon staples, such as the Canyon Kids Christmas Fund, Canyon QRU, Martin City Fire Department and Canyon Head Start.
The weekend kicks off on Friday, Feb. 11, with some live poker, a dart tournament, a mixed-doubles pool tournament and live music, all taking place in Coram and Martin City.
The kids’ events start on Saturday, Feb. 12, at 10 a.m. with the kids’ pool tournament at the Dam Town Tavern in Hungry Horse, sled races at noon in Martin City, followed by a free shuttle service to the children’s carnival at 1 p.m.
The billiards and sledding competitions require a $3 Cabin Fever Days button to enter. The carnival is free with concessions available for purchase.
Saturday is also the start to one of the most popular events of the weekend, the barstool ski races. There are three different classes of racers: steerable, non-steerable and the ever-popular show class.
The basic concept is attaching a stool to a pair of skis and heading off down the hill. However, the races get more complicated and fun once steering ability and decoration are involved.
Many of the racers in the show class spend hours on their sleds, which have few rules other than any entry over 200 pounds must be equipped with brakes. The winners get cash, as well as the glory of having the dominant barstool on the hill.
Qualifying runs begin at 1 p.m. on Sugar Hill in Martin City.
Also on Saturday, take part in or watch a shuffleboard tourney, sumo wrestling, turtle races, arm wrestling and more live music and poker options.
On Sunday, Feb. 13, the barstool races continue at 1 p.m. with finals at 3 p.m., and the button-entry version of the kids’ carnival begins in Martin City. The Backyard Winter Olympics begin at noon and the Mountain Man Contest starts at 3 p.m.
And for brave adults, there’s a cussing contest at 2 p.m.
To help alleviate parking congestion, Voorhees said there will be a free shuttle service this year, with parking areas at the Dam Town Tavern area, Mike’s Conoco, and the Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse. In Coram, parking areas include the overflow lot on the bike path near Packers Roost, Glacier Center Cenex and the Dew Drop Inn.
Shuttles can take participants to events and businesses, and they run from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Some events require an entry fee, but donations are always welcome, organizers said. Laura Djonne, manager at the Dam Town Tavern for 40 years, said the money raised over the weekend is an important part of the Canyon Kids Christmas Fund.
The fund, which Djonne believes began in 1980, provides presents for local kids. Santa flies in the gifts on a helicopter, Djonne said.
“We just have presents for all the kids and Santa flies in on a helicopter,” Djonne said. “Everybody likes that.”
Canyon Kids Christmas Fund has other events throughout the year, including a fishing derby at the end of February, and Djonne said community support for the program is integral to its success.
“It takes everybody. It’s not just me; everybody helps and donates,” Djonne said. “Otherwise, it couldn’t happen.”
Cabin Fever Days buttons are available at multiple locations in Columbia Falls and in the Canyon. Patrons with Cabin Fever Days buttons also get special promotions at a number of Canyon-area businesses. For example, Glacier Outdoor Center is offering free Nordic skiing February 12th and 13th to everyone with a button.
Visit www.cabinfeverdays.com for more information on events, buttons, rules and timetables.
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