Cabin Fever Days Continues to Evolve

39th annual weekend of festivities in Bad Rock Canyon planned for Feb. 10-12

By Molly Priddy
Melissa Hulvat hits the ground as she pushes Pierre Kaptanian during the Barstool Ski Races in Martin City. Beacon File Photo

For nearly 40 years, the denizens of Bad Rock Canyon have bucked against winter’s timeline, challenging the elements with games of softball in the snow, races on barstools, and all sorts of games and competitions to get the blood moving.

Cabin Fever Days, created to help the valley’s residents blow off some pent-up winter steam while also raising money for the canyon’s nonprofits through the Trapline Association, takes place Feb. 10-12 in the communities and businesses throughout the canyon.

And while it’s been nearly four decades of parties and shenanigans, the event is starting to act its age a bit more. According to outgoing Trapline Association president Stacey Schnebel, the focus of the weekend is shifting toward informing people of the reason it was created.

“People are continuously shocked that this is a fundraiser,” Schnebel said in an interview last week. “We need to keep improving communication.”

Last year, Cabin Fever Days raised about $13,000 for canyon causes such as the Canyon Quick Response Unit, the Martin City Fire Department, the Canyon Kids’ Christmas Fund, the Gateway to Glacier Trail, the Sheriff’s Posse, and more.

In the past, the Martin City Fire Department has used its Cabin Fever Days money to enlarge the department’s garage door so it could house a new truck purchased with grants. Schnebel said the Canyon QRU is also a hugely important resource for the canyon, because it’s the first response for emergencies.

This year’s goal is to reach $15,000 for these causes, Schnebel said. The event’s contributions to the community have grown considerably; five years ago, Cabin Fever Days brought in $4,900 for the causes.

Also, money raised through Cabin Fever Days has been set aside for the last three years in a fund that now has $2,150 for town signage for Hungry Horse, Coram, and Martin City. The goal is to have $1,000 for each town’s sign, and then use local products and manufacturers to create them.

“The idea is to give people a sense of place, that they’re passing through communities, not just driving the road to Glacier Park,” Schnebel said.

Another new addition in recent years has been the availability of free, sober transportation. This year, Xanterra is sponsoring the sober chauffeur taxi service, operated by Glacier Country Transportation, on Saturday night. This means the taxi will transport revelers in the canyon for free.

The sponsored taxi service over the last five years has largely eliminated the DUIs coming out of the festival, Schnebel said, and “has vastly improved safety in the canyon.”

The event’s shuttle service has also proved invaluable in this regard, she said. So this year, the services will offer expanded parking and door-to-door convenience for festivalgoers. The shuttle, operated by Rocky Mountain Transportation, is free and runs from 12 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday this year, and until 8 p.m. on Sunday.

The 39th annual Barstool Ski Races will still run up and down Martin City, but will include a groomer this year to help smooth out the hill, and a professional DJ will help make the event more efficient.

And many of the canyon’s businesses will offer the fun and games revelers are used to, such as the dart tournament, arm-wrestling tournament, snowshoe softball, snowshoe horseshoe, a roshambo tournament, a mountain-man competition, plenty of kid-friendly events, and live music running most of the day and into the nights.

The Poker Run will include seven stops, all of which are on the shuttle’s path, and participants need only gather five cards to play. The Dam Town Tavern in Hungry Horse will offer the first snow sculpture event for the weekend as well.

Schnebel said that as the event grows, she hopes awareness of community service does as well. Those who may not be able to give monetary donations might be able to donate their time to serve their community, she said. But what matters is supporting the canyon, Schnebel said, and if you can have fun while doing it, that’s a bonus.

“We’ve been growing and evolving over the years,” she said. “Every year we try to add another element.”

For more information on Cabin Fever Days, visit www.cabinfeverdays.com.