The Sundial Lodge at Nemacolin Woodlands will be rocking Friday night when Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers help the resort celebrate its annual winter festival.
The legendary musician and his band will perform classic hits and selections from their latest album. The weekend will hold a lot of meaning for those who attended last year's festival, especially those who worked at the old Sundial Lodge. The two-story wood and stone building caught fire Feb. 12, four hours after the conclusion of last year's WinterFest. The spectacular, wind-whipped blaze could be seen for miles and burned the lodge to the ground.
"This year's festivities will be particularly significant as we introduce our WinterFest guests to the recently completed lodge and display the new amenities housed in the facility," said general manager Chris Plummer.
In addition to celebrating a winter much better than last year's in terms of natural snowfall and ideal snowmaking conditions, Plummer said the resort "is marking the end of a year filled with hard work and dedication" by its business partners and its employees in the construction of the new lodge.
He was referring to DRS Architects of Pittsburgh, who designed the lodge; Martik Brothers of Finleyville, the general contractors; and a host of multitalented subcontractors who literally worked shoulder-to-shoulder to complete the 28,000 square foot building in record time.
Because of "insurance procedures and site work," the official groundbreaking of the new metal-clad and stucco lodge did not occur until July 20, five months after the fire. It opened to the public Dec. 24, five months after the ceremonial groundbreaking.
The new lodge provides easy first-floor access to everything skiers and snowboarders may need before they head for the slopes -- lift tickets, rental equipment, lessons, a small retail shop and restrooms. It also has eight automated bowling alleys, arcade games and the resort's Adventure Headquarters. A 27-step staircase to the right of a signature fieldstone fireplace leads to Apex, a casual restaurant and bar. It has been so popular, the resort increased its capacity.
Radio personalities from WDVE, 105.9 The X and ESPN 970 broadcasting live from the lodge will mark the official start of WinterFest Friday morning. Randy Baumann from the WDVE Morning Show will greet guests at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Other Saturday events include a variety of children's activities, including snow-painting and snowman-building; ice-carving demonstrations; the Polar Bear Golf Classic on the Links course and the goose bumps-generating Polar Bear Plunge. Participants in swimming attire -- or a wacky costume -- take a quick dip in a pond to receive a free lift ticket and rental equipment.
The Out Cold Party will challenge participants to ski or snowboard down the slopes while holding steins of beer. The first one who returns to the top via the quad chairlift with the most beer will win a season pass and a trophy. The fastest overall skier/snowboarder and the competitor with the most beer will win one-day lift tickets.
An expansive bar made of fresh snow and ice will be built next to the lodge and feature "adult libations as well as non-alcoholic beverages."
Girlz in Black Hats will provide the music for the Snowmelt Party Saturday night.
Ohiopyle State Park will have its annual Winterfest from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. today in five inches of new snow at the Sugarloaf sledding area on Sugarloaf Road between Ohiopyle and Confluence. Activities include sled- and saucer-riding, sleigh rides, demonstrations of snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and dog-sledding, hiking, food and activities for children.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational snowsports for the Post-Gazette.