Summer may not officially end until Sept. 23, but it’s not too early to say hello to autumn, especially when the welcoming party is Fall Fest at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.
For the 27th year, Schweitzer will wrap up its summer season with the event that features beer and wine tasting, live music and family-friendly activities today through Monday at the resort.
And it’s been a busy season, according to Schweitzer Marketing Manager Dig Chrismer. Construction has begun on the foundation of the resort’s new hotel, which is estimated to be finished in fall 2020.
Work also has begun to install two new chairlifts on the mountain. Because of the construction work, some of the Fall Fest features, including the children’s activities, have been moved from the village to the venue space.
“Once you get past the construction at the beginning part of the village, it opens up and clears out, and once you’re in the venue for Fall Fest, you won’t even be aware of the construction site behind you,” Chrismer said.
The construction work also has affected parking, so Chrismer recommends guests carpool or use the free Selkirks Pend Oreille Transit Authority bus shuttles, which run today from 3-8:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Guests also can park at the Red Barn at the base of Schweitzer Mountain Road and catch the shuttle from there. Shuttles run between the Red Barn and the village every 30 minutes.
“We hope everyone’s flexible and understands the parking lots are a little chaotic this year with the construction, but if we can carpool and take the shuttle, hopefully it won’t be so bad,” Chrismer said.
Once inside Fall Fest, guests can sample a selection of 80 beers, ciders, seltzers and wines all from Pacific Northwest-area breweries in special Fall Fest glassware.
Glassware must be picked up by Monday at 3 p.m. Guests need an ID to pick up their glasses, and all glasses come with three fill tokens. This year, attendees can purchase a limited-edition GSI camp cup (15 oz., $40) or a limited-edition thumbprint mug (20 oz., $40).
There’s also a pub glass (20 oz., $35), a stainless steel cup (19 oz., $35), a pub glass (16 oz., $25), a stemless glass for beer or wine (15 oz., $25), a beer taster (6 oz., $15) and a multi-colored Silipint soda cup (12 oz., $15). All glassware is emblazoned with some form of the Fall Fest logo.
“We appreciate that people who have been coming to the event for years are going to have cupboards full of Fall Fest glassware, so what we like to do is try to offer different options every year so it is a collection,” Chrismer said. “And it is distinguishable that this is the glass from 2015 and this is the glass from 2019 and keep it fresh in that sense.”
If not purchased in advance, attendees can purchase the festival package of their choice – beer, wine or soda – at the festival. The beer package comes with three tokens, which are redeemable at any of the taps at the beer tent.
Wine packages include a glass with three tokens for 4 oz. pours of wine, and soda packages include three tokens for soda mixing at the Coca-Cola tent.
Attendees can purchase drink tokens at the merchandise tent throughout the weekend. The beer tent will be open from 4-8 p.m. today, noon-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday.
For a full list of the beer, cider and seltzers available for tasting, visit schweitzer.com. Wines will vary; it’s recommended that attendees stop by the wine counter to see what is currently being served.
“It’s fun to see people’s reaction to (the variety of beer and wine available) and then the different options and the different tastes and the different flavors that they may never get exposed to except for at Fall Fest,” Chrismer said.
Along with beer and wine, Fall Fest also features more than enough live music and activities to keep guests of all ages entertained all weekend. Today, Far Out West (4-5:30 p.m.) and Santa Poco (6-8 p.m.) will perform.
On Saturday, the Miah Kohal Band will kick things off at noon, followed by the Nate Botsford Band at 2:30 p.m. and World’s Finest at 5 p.m. On Sunday, Balance Trick will take the stage from noon-2 p.m., followed by the Josh Farmer Band (2:30-4:30 p.m.) and Ron Artis II and the Truth (5-7 p.m.).
On Monday, the festival will wrap up with performances from Trego (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) and Sol Seed (2-4 p.m.). Concerts are in the amphitheater on the Musical Chairs run.
“The best part is all the live music we have over the weekend is free, so if you want to come up and enjoy the music, you don’t have to be interested in trying the beer or ciders or anything,” Chrismer said. “If you just want to enjoy the music, you’re welcome to do that.”
All weekend long, there will be a climbing wall, a trampoline jumper and other kid-friendly activities, which open at 11 a.m. each day.
The Great Escape Quad chairlift will be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. today, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, and arts, craft and food vendors will be situated around the village all weekend.
During Fall Fest, the following food vendors will be on hand: Schweitzer BBQ tent, Chimney Rock Grill, Gourmandie, Sky House, Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese, the Burger Dock, Open Range, Opa!, Jupiter Jane Traveling Café, Mandala Pizza, May’s Thai, 7B Custom Cakes, It’s Poppin’ Kettle Korn and Just Donuts.
Over the years, Fall Fest has become as much a tradition for those who work at Schweitzer as it is for those who make the trek to the resort year after year.
As such, Chrismer said everyone at the resort is looking forward to seeing those tried-and-true regulars, as well as the first-timers who are just discovering Fall Fest.
“We’re looking forward to seeing everybody up here,” Chrismer said. “It’s a highlight for all of us. It’s a great event, and it’s really nice to see everybody up here.”
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