Visitors check out the Great Outdoors at Whitetail

October 25, 2004|by DON AINES

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Though its slopes were barren of snow, one of the chair lifts at Whitetail Ski Resort was operating Sunday, taking riders up the mountainside to a point where they disappeared in the mist.

The only thing falling from the sky Sunday was a light drizzle, but that failed to deter several hundred people from showing up for the second and final day of the resort's fourth annual Great Outdoors Festival and Ski Swap.

"We've got everything. All the fun and adventure you can have in the great outdoors in this area," said Chris Black, the marketing coordinator for Whitetail.


"It's not hard when you get used to it," 11-year-old Haley Steffen of Shippensburg, Pa., said after scaling a 30-foot climbing wall a few times.

"It was pretty good, other than it was freezing," Evan Moreland, 6, of Myersville, Md., said of the chair lift. He was there with his two brothers, mother Tammie Moreland and grandmother Peggy Coffman.

"We can't get Chad, the 4-year-old, off the barrel train," Coffman said of a train of plastic barrels being pulled by an all-terrain vehicle.

Evan Moreland thought one of the best attractions at the Great Outdoors Festival was actually inside.

"There's a girl trapped in a spider web ... and a guy with a creepy mask on that's green," he said of the Haunted Hall in the base lodge.

A number of those attending said they do not ski, or had not in several years, but the event featured canoeing and kayaking demonstrations and fly-fishing clinics at the resort's pond. Other activities included pony rides, paintball, archery, chainsaw wood carving and other activities around the lodge area.

Inside the lodge, people wandered past craft booths eyeing merchandise, while others gathered around exhibits, including one by the Keystone Reptile Club. Visitor Kara McFarland, 20, of Winchester, Va., appeared comfortable with a Taiwan beauty snake draped about her neck and shoulders.

Club member Sandra Kautz of Newville, Pa., had a snake balled up in each hand, opening one to reveal a baby ball python snoozing. She said the club brought about two dozen snakes and has come to the festival the past three years.

People were able to buy and sell skis, snowboards, clothing and other equipment at the ski swap, Black said.

As soon as the weather turns and stays cold enough to make snow, Black said the resort will start its season, which should last into March. During the height of the season, 700 to 800 people work at Whitetail, he said.

While regular skiers and snowboarders come to the annual festival to take advantage of discounts on season passes and equipment, Black said it is also a way to bring in those who have never been to the Montgomery Township resort.

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