ROTTERDAM – Things get busy on the slopes at Maple Ski Ridge when the snow starts to fall.
But behind the scenes things are busy well before then, and the unofficial kickoff for all things ski season actually happens during the Rotterdam ski resort’s Fall Festival.
Set to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, the event will include everything from chairlift rides to hayrides, food, live music, a car show, bounce house and more.
The celebration is in its 16th year. It began as a tractor show, rummage sale and bake sale to raise money for Duanesburg schools. In the ensuing years, organizers also added a craft fair.
“There’s a little bit of something for everybody. There’s some very kid-centric stuff. There’s some adult-centric stuff,” said Kirsten Ford, who performs marketing and communications duties for Maple Ski Ridge and is also a ski instructor there.
The festival will include antique engines from the Hudson Mohawk Chapter of the Pioneer Gas Association, as well as live music and a silent auction.
The event is also a fundraiser for the Weekend Backpack Fund, which works to help elementary school students in Schenectady struggling with food insecurity by providing food each Friday of the school year.
The festival also marks the beginning of seasonal rentals.
“We kick off our ski and snowboard rentals at the Fall Fest, and also our registrations for the ski season passes,” Ford said.
There will be a discount offered on that day. Attendees can also sign up for ski lessons.
“A lot of people will come out and spend the day at Fall Fest — have something to eat, music, have all sorts of fun — but also sign up for their ski lessons and get their season passes, and get their rentals all sized and get ready for winter. Believe it or not it starts early. We have to get ready for winter very early, because when the snow flies you have to be ready,” Ford said.
It’s set to be a big season for the ski center, which is celebrating 60 years.
“We have some exciting celebrations that we’re going to be working on. We’re just trying to highlight Maple Ski Ridge history throughout the year to really bring home the fact that 60 years is a long time for a ski area,” Ford said.
The business is still owned by the Mulyca family and stretches out over 138 acres. It typically brings in roughly 20,000 visitors and has been in the process of making facility improvements, including a new water pumping station, electrical upgrades and new snowmaking machines.
They’ve also been busy getting ready for the festival, which organizers are hoping sees good weather.
“Our biggest challenge is always weather. We’re always praying for the day for sun and no rain,” Ford said.