W hen the sun tucks away and the snow piles up, admittedly not as much this year as in years past, Cabin Fever takes hold. Folks in The Canyon have our own remedy for this stir-crazy feeling. Sure it involves a healthy dose of whiskey, which usually leads to mountain man competitions, arm wrestling matches and bar stool races down Sugar Hill–but more importantly, Cabin Fever Days is a time for our Gateway to Glacier communities to come together in support of our local QRU units, Volunteer Fire Department, food bank and Headstart organizations Cabin Fever Days celebrated its 35th year on February 8-10 (although rumor has it impromptu winter bar stool races have a much longer history in the canyon). Although The Whiskey Barn has only been around for these last two years, we are proud to saddle-up on a bar stool throw ourselves into the arm wrestling ring and open the distillery doors for tastings and whiskey cocktails that’ll warm ya up and have you bustin’ moves on the dance floor all night!
The distillery turns into a workshop the Thursday before the festivities. The production space fills up with men wielding saws and waxing the skis that will serve as bases for the bar stools to be raced in Saturday’s competition. Nic polishes up the milk jug sled and makes a few adjustments based on last years performance: a little higher, a little more wax, get rid of that steering device it creates too much drag. The men periodically step back whiskey in hand and assess their work–lets be honest here, there is a lot on the line for these fellas…more than the small purse there is pride and a chance of making the front page of The Hungry Horse News, kind of a big deal in these parts. In between sled adjustments and progress assessment they pass along tips for the arm wrestling competition I plan on entering Saturday afternoon; we watch ‘Over The Top’ clips and practice mock-matches so when the day arrives I will be ‘armed ‘and ready.
On Saturday afternoon folks gather around Sugar Hill in Martin City to watch the barstool races. Looking around at the families and smiling faces as the energy mounts I realize this is the real reason we get together every year, because no matter where you live, community is important. Weaving through the friendly competitions, late night dancing and revelry is a common thread of support and pride for this amazing community nestled deep in the Northern Rockies. So next winter when you feel a touch of Cabin Fever coming on, head our way for a roaring good weekend of family and adult activities that’ll set you right in no time–here’s to winters in The West!