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Griz Days This Weekend

There's a legend of a man with a burly chest and a thick white beard, so big he ought to be mistaken for Bigfoot. Except he's no Bigfoot, though he does have big feet. He carries a musket in his hand, wears a furred raccoon hat upon his head, and was born in and of the mountains in a grizzly bear cave long ago. He's no bear, though he might as well be.

That man is the legendary Griz, and he's the giver of Fernie's snow.

Once a year, to show their gratitude, the townspeople of Fernie gather to celebrate his fruitful givings of legendary powder. And so emerged the Griz Days winter festival. Lucky for you, the festival runs this weekend, March 1 to 3, and is one of the best weekends to spend in Fernie.

What will you find? Locals corralled in the Griz Jail raising money for charities, the wild and hilarious Extreme Griz competition, where contestants throw axes and eat pancakes in an all-day fight, and the winners are crowned at the end of the night.

You'll find the Griz Days parade along historic 2nd Avenue, complete with horseback riders dressed in wolf-fur and cowhide, fire trucks and colourful floats from Fernie Pride. And of course, there's even saltwater toffee thrown out for the littlest folks.

You'll find the multi-faceted Griz Days Craft Fair at the local community centre, filled with various talent—hand made soap, local honey, wood works and beautiful art. There's even delicious homemade food for sale, making it easy to grab a bite while perusing the vibrant aisles.

Downtown, there's a lumberjack show, live music, delicious food trucks and a beer garden with live entertainment. And don't forget the Griz Days Pub Crawl—find yourself at the many bars in town tasting unique beverages all night long.

Towards the end of the evening, when the chill sets in and the snow begins to fall, you'll find an incredible fireworks show to finish it all.

On Sunday you won't want to miss the annual Dummy Downhill at Fernie Alpine Resort. Take in a morning ski, following by the carnage of the event. Participants spend tireless hours building their dummies just to watch them launch off an enormous jump to their timely demise. It's a slaughter of the entertaining kind, sure to leave you with your cheeks aching from endless smiles and laughter.

What do you need for Griz Days? A Griz Days pin, to start. Each year, locations all over town sell $3 Griz Pins, and give you a chance at winning $1000. Plus, if you don't have a pin, you might get thrown into Griz Jail and will need to find a friend to bail you out (by donation). There's also this year's theme, Griz Days Gone Denim. Find your old vests, your favourite jeans, maybe even a blue-denim cowboy hat, and arrive in your classic Canadian Tuxedo prepared for the weekend's events.

Look to local bars for live bands and DJs to carry the party to the early morning hours, including the 80s cover band Val Kilmer and the New Coke at the Northern Bar & Stage. Even if it's cold, you'll have your fox fur and technical denim to keep you warm on your way home.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, the Griz Days winter festival in Fernie is guaranteed to leave you wanting more fur, more fun, and more pow!

--Jesse Bell

Jesse is a local writer and adventurer with a huge passion for Fernie, BC and the Canadian Rockies.