ALBANY — The long-running autumn ski show will continue its evolution from a winter sports expo to a full day of entertainment when the 56th edition opens Friday in Albany.
The first clue to how the former Albany Ski & Snowboard Expo has evolved is the name it adopted last year: the Northeast Ski & Craft Beer Showcase.
There will still be lots of skis, snowboards, parkas, boots and gloves on display for sale — sponsoring retailer Alpin Haus will bring three or four tractor-trailer loads of merchandise to the event — but there will be twice as many craft brewers of that popular apres-ski beverage: beer. (Plus two wineries for those who prefer wine.)
Rounding out the event is an exhibition of freestyle rail-riding by semi-pro skiers and snowboarders, a family fun zone for kids, live music, the beer garden, flu shots and a winter coat donation drive.
The schedule was expanded beyond skis and goggles in order to appeal to a wider range of people — and keep them on-site for a longer time — said Mark Bardack, of Ed Lewi Associates, which is producing the event. The goal is to build more interest among attendees in skiing and snowboarding, as a result.
“The show has evolved from what many years ago was a heavy retail show,” Bardack said.
Alpin Haus President Andy Heck said the intent is to attract younger people to the slopes, especially young families and young adults who haven’t started families yet. That age demographic looks at the whole experience of a trade show, he said, not just the merchandise, so “You’ve got to put on a good event.”
He added: “We’ve been part of this show for a very long time and we’ve been brainstorming for a few years.”
Heck is not worried, yet, that the warm autumn and lingering green leaves might impact sales of ski gear.
“When the clock turns to November and the days are shorter, it will all come together,” he said. Thanks to some late snowstorms in the 2016-17 ski season, there’s some momentum going into 2017-18, he said. “We’re seeing a lot of enthusiasm, especially with families.”
Also new this year: the venue. After years in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, the show is moving down the hill to the new Albany Capital Center, at 55 Eagle St.
“When I saw it, I said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to be here,’” Heck recalled.
The new facility has hosted mostly trade events so far, Bardack said. The ski and craft beer showcase is one of the first consumer events to be held there, and as such gives the public a chance to check it out.
Some other details about the Ski and Craft Beer Showcase:
- Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
- Ticketholders get a $2 discount off the Albany Auto Show being held the same weekend at the Times Union Center.
- Parking is free in the Times Union Center garage.
- The first 500 people to enter with paid admission Friday will receive two-for-one lift ticket vouchers for select Vermont ski areas.
- The first 500 people to enter with paid admission Saturday and Sunday will receive free lift tickets for select New York ski areas.
- Thirteen New York and New England craft brewers and two New York wineries will be set up in the beer garden, up from six brewers and zero wineries last year. Tasting tickets will be sold in blocks of five for $7.
- As in recent years, the main snow sport equipment retailers will be Alpin Haus of Amsterdam, Steiners Sports of Glenmont and Potter Brothers of Kingston.
- Mountain resorts across New York and northern New England will have a presence, including, for the first time, Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire.