Mother Nature clearly thought there wasn’t enough snow on the Meyer Ranch sledding hill for a snowtubing competition, so she sent more.
Saturday morning, as teams were carrying their inner tubes up the hill and racing down, a flurry of new flakes definitely helped 285 Winterfest live up to its name.
The Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual event typically includes a beer crawl, snowman-carving competition and other aspects. However, this year, snowtubing was the only official part of the event because of the pandemic.
About 16 teams with four participants each took turns sliding down the long hill. There was a $100 prize for the winning team and participants got to take the inner tubes home, which definitely made the younger competitors happy.
Executive Director Melanie Swearengin said 285 Winterfest was all the more important this year, as it encouraged people to not only get out of their homes during the pandemic, but also to visit local businesses.
“It’s a way to celebrate the community,” she continued.
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Evergreen’s Cash family, newcomers to the competition, heard about the event online and registered under the team name “Cash Flow.”
Parents Mary and Leighton explained that they used to live near Meyer Ranch Park and took their sons — Britton, 15, and Calvin, 14 — sledding there a lot when they were younger.
The family usually goes skiing on weekends this time of year, but the four decided to try something different this Saturday. It was the Cashes’ first time at Winterfest, and they wanted to return sometime to see what the event is like without the COVID-19 restrictions.
The competition involved two teams going head-to-head twice.
The first time was more like a relay race with one person from each team tubing down and the next person going whenever their teammate reached the finish line. Then, the second time, the same teams had all four members start at once. It was a bit of a clogged start, but the finishes were always wild. Some competitors caught air and/or crashed at the bottom; some bumped into each other; and some had difficulty getting their tube going and fell behind.
Two teams opted to wear costumes in the hopes of winning the related prize.
Lakewood’s Alisha Harrison, her son and nephews decided to don gnome outfits and called their team the “Crazy Snow Gnomes.” The family members go sledding frequently, but it was their first time competing in snowtubing.
Harrison said she loved creating the costumes, and that the event overall was lots of fun. She wants to come back next year. Her son and nephews clearly had a blast, as they continued tubing down the hill even after the competition was over.
She thanked the chamber and sponsors for making 285 Winterfest happen this year, saying, “It’s important to get people outside in these dark times.”