(Pam Barberis and son Evan wave to the crowd from the Black Star van at the Whitefish Winter Carnival Grand Parade. Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
There’s still time to get to Whitefish, Montana this weekend for a unique Northwest winter event.
This Saturday, Feb. 4, is the culmination of the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival. You can watch the gooseflesh-and-screams fun of the Penguin Plunge as hundreds of locals cannonball off the icy shore of City Beach at Whitefish Lake. You can elbow toddlers out of the way to catch candy thrown by participants at the rowdy downtown Grand Parade. Or, best of all, If you’re the haggling sort, especially the beer-drinking haggling sort, you might just be lucky enough to score a year’s worth of Black Star Beer.
Ah. Now I have your attention.
At the annual Black Star Beer Barter, held at the Great Northern Brewing Company, contestants try to out-bid one another by offering outrageous examples of just what they would do and how far they would go to win fifty-two cases (1,248 bottles if you’re math challenged) of the distinctive double-hopped golden lager. You don’t have to participate to enjoy the fun. It’s perfectly OK to hoist a Black Star or two and just watch the show, but it’s still not too late to come up with your own outrageous trade.
If you want to prove you’re willing to party hard, here’s an idea: Catch the 1:30 am Amtrak Empire Builder in Spokane, arrive in Whitefish with the Saturday morning sunrise. Spend the day downtown, after the Beer Barter stop by the Great Northern 17th Anniversary festivities and then take in the Whitefish Mountain Resort Torchlight Parade before the train pulls out and heads back to Spokane at 9:40 pm.
Don't tell me that wouldn't impress your friends at Sunday's Super Bowl party.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. She blogs at CAMera and Treasure Hunting. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com