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Outdoor fun is plentiful at annual Whitetail event

October 26, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - People ate outside at picnic tables and listened to live bluegrass music in temperatures in the high 50s Saturday at the Third Annual Great Outdoors Festival.

A hang glider, a fire safety trailer, a rock climbing wall, a petting zoo and many other activities were under way in the Mixing Bowl area of Whitetail Mountain Resort south of Mercersburg.

A few attendees did not enjoy the warm weather.

Cal Grass of Waynesboro, Pa., said his Siberian husky sled dogs overheat when running in warm temperatures. Even though they were eager to run, he drove them only a short distance hitched to their wheeled training cart.

He usually does not run them when the temperature is above 50 degrees, Grass said. He said he takes them on sprints of four to six miles in the winter.

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Children climbed in and out of a Hummer and a Bombardier Snow Groomer on display in the Mixing Bowl, then ran to the Archery Shoot for Kids or shot paintballs, took a barrel ride or petted the animals.

The Franklin County 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Club brought several dogs. Live birds of prey: Three falcons, a red-tailed hawk and a 40-year-old golden eagle sat on perches inside the ski lodge.

A popular activity was the rock climbing wall. Children and adults waited their turn to scale the 40-foot portable wall.

Briana Coulter, 5, climbed the rock wall with help from her father, Brian Coulter, of Hagerstown.

"It was like I was climbing a real wall," the kindergartner said.

She estimated that she climbed about four feet on the wall; her father thought she reached about 10 feet.

Kurtis Vargo, 11, of Shippensburg, Pa., climbed quickly to the top of the rock wall, then rode the rope down. He has climbed rock walls before, but hasn't decided if he will someday climb a real cliff.

His formula for success in conquering the free-standing wall is simple: "You have to figure out which one to grab before you move your leg to the next place." he said. "If you put your hand in the right place, you can pull yourself up."

The Shippensburg Area Middle School sixth-grader said the best part was "reaching the top, because you can reach your goal."

New this year at the festival was a ski swap.

"People bring in their skis, boots and ski clothing and we help price it. It's priced to sell," ski swap supervisor Chip Taylor said.

"We help sell it, and the ski patrol gets 10 percent of the proceeds."

Taylor, a member of the Whitetail Ski Patrol, said the consignment sale helps fund aid equipment, "to help others on the hill."

Whitetail Ski Patrol, which has about 70 members, is a member of the National Ski Patrol.

The ski swap continues today. Consignors should pick up their unsold items by 4 p.m., Taylor said. Good equipment that is not picked up is donated to the Special Olympics.

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