Best Fest: Beast or Jammin'? - Ski Mag

Best Fest: Beast or Jammin'?

Killington’s Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge and Sugarloaf’s Reggae Fest dominate the East Coast slopeside party scene.
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East Coast Spring Ski Fests

One of these days, this cold is going to break…that much we know. Also this: When it does, the 2015 spring skiing season promises to be one of the best ever.

From the Berkshires to Tuckerman Ravine, the Eastern snowpack remains in full lockdown mode…hardly a flake of snow has been lost since about Christmas, thanks to a freakishly stubborn weather pattern that keeps pumping arctic air and steady snowfall into the region while Western resorts suffer warm days and persistent drought.

Long days, soft bumps, warm temps, bright sun, uncrowded slopes…and if you’re ready to make the most of an epic spring, the resorts are ready as ever to keep the party going.

Spring festivals abound, but two stand head and shoulders above the rest, both for size and level of party intensity. The only difficulty: You have to choose. Because Sugarloaf’s Reggae Festival and Killington’s Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge are slated for the same weekend, April 10-12.

The Mogul Challenge might be best described as an amateur athletic comp with a serious drinking problem—the contest itself is merely an excuse to party. And perhaps no one knows how to party heartier, or more creatively, than Killington regulars. What’s BMMC like? Take a typical spring skiing festival—barbecues, beers and bikinis—throw in a little Burning Man, and you get the picture. Ski houses and ski-bum cohorts compete to see who can create the most positive spring party vibe, setting up slopeside bars and tents, many complete with couches, easy chairs, sound systems, and the occasional farm animal. (Because dogs were banned, but no one said anything about donkeys.)

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In fact, the BMMC almost partied itself out of existence. It was cancelled in 2012 after resort management decided the antics were getting out of control. An explosion of indignant outrage, and a change in management at Killington conspired to bring the event back. Now it’s as colorful as ever.

At Sugarloaf, it’s the colors of the Jamaican flag that dominate Reggae Fest weekend…with special emphasis on the color green, if you know what we mean. The crowds are mellow but huge—lots of music lovers attend just for the beats, with no intention of ever clicking into a ski. That means uncrowded slopes for hardcore skiers who want to enjoy the jams between runs. Sugarloaf’s base area throbs with fun long into the night (the headliners play till 1 a.m.).

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Headlining this year’s fest is Stick Figure, a SoCal American roots reggae and dub band whose 2012 album Burial Ground reached No. 1 on the reggae charts. Supporting acts include Soul Rebel Project; Roots, Rhythm and Dub; and Catchavibe.

So, which fest will you pick?

(Photos from top: Chandler Burgess/Killington, Jamie Walter/Sugarloaf)

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