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Thawing the Winter Blues
36th annual event takes place in Bad Rock Canyon Feb. 14-16
Participants in the Barstool Ski Race slide downhill in Martin City during Cabin Fever Days.| Flathead Beacon file photo
With record-cold weather hitting the Flathead this winter, no one would blame their neighbor for getting a little stir crazy in the season’s chill and darkness.

The businesses and denizens of Bad Rock Canyon know this, and they’re here to help with the 36th annual Cabin Fever Days, taking place Feb. 14-16. And anyone who participates in Cabin Fever Days gives back to those businesses and canyon residents in turn.

Stacey Schnebel, owner of the Stonefly Lounge in Coram and president of the Trapline Association, said the money raised through the weekend benefits important nonprofits in Bad Rock Canyon, including the Martin City Volunteer Fire Department, the Canyon QRU, the Canyon Kids’ Christmas Fund, and the Canyon Beautification Committee.

“Those are great for the quality of life here,” she said. “(The weekend) is so important for the quick response unit, which benefits all valley residents and visitors who come through here.”

The proceeds from all the sales of Cabin Fever Days buttons, which cost $3, get-out-of-jail buttons, and logo T-shirts go toward the various nonprofit organizations. The event also raises money through its poker run and 50/50 ticket sales.

Schnebel highlighted a weekend in January when there were two car wrecks at nearly the same time in Bad Rock Canyon, and the fire department and QRU were stretched thin covering both incidents.

Having both units is important for resident and visitor safety, she said, and Cabin Fever Days goes quite a way in ensuring they are funded properly.

It’s also a lean time of year for many of the businesses in the area, compared to the crazy boom of summer. Any large crowd in the canyon this time of year is a good boost for the restaurants, hotels, bars and other shops and stores along the way.

“Certainly it does bring a great bump in business,” Schnebel said. “There’s a full schedule of events running at four taverns in addition to the ski races.”

Of course, one of the biggest reasons Cabin Fever Days has stayed so popular for nearly four decades is the ever-interesting World Famous Barstool Ski Races.

What started as a bet about racing a barstool down the street in Martin City has turned into a spectacle of creativity and hilarity, as racers make their way down the slope on their specially formulated crafts.

There are three classifications of barstool-sleds: steerable, non-steerable, and the awe-inspiring show class.

For rules, regulations and registration information visit the Cabin Fever Days website at www.cabinfeverdays.com.

Schnebel pointed out that while some participants work for months on their barstool racers, anyone can sign up. There is still time to slap a pair of old skis on the bottom of a chair and hit the hill, she said.

All of the competitions throughout the weekend are open to the public, including pool tournaments, dart tournaments, an arm wrestling tournament, the mountain man competition, poker tournaments, a rochambeaux tournament, snowshoe softball, and more. Each tavern has a lineup of live music each night as well.

Participants fly down Sugar Hill during Cabin Fever Days. | Flathead Beacon file photo

There are also plenty of kids activities, Schnebel said, which will be held this year at the Lietz Fire Hall in Martin City, putting the kids right in the middle of all the action.

“It’s tying it all together, and it’s giving some activities for children and parents of young children to get off the hill and distract kids and do something fun,” Schnebel said.

Kids activities include sled races on Sugar Hill, a pool tournament, gunny sack races, a cupcake walk, a haystack search, snowshoe softball, and a free magic show.

Regular Cabin Fever Days participants might also notice a change in signage this year, due to a new partnership with Flathead Beverage and sponsorship from Budweiser, Schnebel said.

And to help keep participants safe, Schnebel recommended using the free shuttle service that runs between all the events. It helps relieve congestion, while also allowing riders to hop on and off at various events. While the shuttle is free, Schnebel asked riders to consider purchasing a $3 button to help support it.

Shuttle parking areas can be found at the Dam Town Tavern in Hungry Horse; Packer’s Roost in Coram; Glacier Center Cenex in Coram; the Dew Drop Inn in Coram; and the Zip Trip in Hungry Horse.

A “sober chauffeur” service from Glacier Country Transportation is also available by calling 406-755-3700. It is sponsored by the Hungry Horse Liquor Store, with free rides on Saturday, Feb. 15.

Overall, Schnebel said Cabin Fever Days would go a long way to shake off the winter blues.

“All together, it’s going to be really awesome,” she said.

For more information, including a full schedule of events, visit www.cabinfeverdays.com.
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