Summer in the mountains of Southern Alberta can be fickle; quite often it will take its sweet time, waiting until late July to really get started, and by September dustings of snow can be seen on the mountain tops or even the valley floors. Very conveniently, and scientifically, this coincides with maturation of the Southern Rockies huckleberry crop, and one result of this great gift from nature is Castle Mountain Resort’s Huckleberry Festival.
Nestled deep in the southwest corner of Alberta on what is essentially a dead end road, Castle Mountain’s Huckleberry extravaganza has been going on, in various forms, for as long as anyone can remember. But what it the festival is now is the most important, and that is a multidimensional day of fun for families, friends, couples, kids, grandparents, dogs and everyone in between.
The center piece is quite obviously the huckleberries that line the slopes of the off-season ski hill and surrounding mountainsides. Berry enthusiasts will be able to utilize a mechanized advantage and jump on the chairlift, for $10 per person, to arrive halfway up the mountain and commence their berry gathering assault all the way back to the base area. This year, according to Castle Mountain Community Association President, Fraser Stewart, the weather has been setting up nicely for the delivery of a perfect crop.
“We had lots of rain in May, June and July and now the warm weather is coming,” said Stewart. “The huckleberries should be incredible this year.”
A happy picker shows off her berry bucket
Photo by Curt Derbyshire
Upon arriving at the base of the mountain, visitors will find a whole host of additional activities, along with some live music on the outdoor stage. Craft and bake sales will be taking place in the day lodge as well as a silent auction. A BBQ lunch will be available and the T-Bar Pub will be open, serving up their famous pizza and host of adult beverages.
Later on in the evening, the festivities will move indoors as the day lodge will house the annual pig roast and the live music will continue on until midnight.
All the revenue generated by the festival remains at the ski hill and helps with a variety of programs.
“All the money stays here and we make donations to all the clubs,” said Stewart. “Nancy Greene, the race club, disabled, freestyle and the CSPS (Canadian Ski Patrol System). We’re also working towards beautification of the base area.”
There will be live music & entertainent throughout the festival
Photo by Curt Derbyshire
The Huckleberry Festival is the biggest summer weekend at Castle Mountain and a great opportunity for everyone to make it out to the ski hill. Whether you’re a regular snow-slider looking to catch up with all your wintery friends, a berry lover hoping to gather a supply for your latest culinary creation, or just looking for a great way to spend what could be the last Saturday of the summer.
“It’s a real family event, grandparents and kids. That’s the beauty of it.”
For more information head to Castle Mountain’s website at www.skicastle.ca