Snowdown gained momentum on Thursday, its second day, with events like the Big Wheel Derby at the Balcony Bar & Grill.
“I enjoy Snowdown more every year, and it helps the businesses downtown,” said Big Wheel Derby organizer and Balcony Bar & Grill owner Jeff Wall. “We get a chance to thrive with our locals.”
The Big Wheel Derby requires participants to chug a beer before riding a lap as fast as they can around the bar’s balcony.
Winners of the event included Cedric Richardson in first place with a time of 24.4 seconds, followed by Andy High in second place and TJ Parcel in third place. Wall said most participants were repeat competitors from previous years.
This year, contestants chugged Ska’s Snowdown beer, Love Potion 43, before racing around the second-story balcony. The Love Potion is an apple, hibiscus and cucumber tart.
“It’s definitely not a chugger, but it’s a really good beer,” said contestant Hanna Martens.
Martens said she’s excited to have Snowdown back after last year’s hiatus because of COVID-19. She’s been attending Snowdown events since she was 2 years old, with her parents, she said.
Karl Durgler reminisced about his favorite Big Wheel Derby event held a few years ago when a friend threw up almost immediately after chugging a beer at the start of the race.
“Our buddy puked like 10 feet out from the start, and he was not disqualified,” Durgler said. “It’s really such a fun event.”
High and Durgler said they make sure to take the week off work every year for Snowdown.
Others who attended the Big Wheel Derby, like Martens’ boyfriend, Colter Trent, were making some of their first Snowdown memories.
“It’s been hyped up the entire time we’ve been dating, and it’s definitely lived up to the hype,” Trent said. “I’m having so much fun.”
High said he started going to Snowdown in 2006, when the festival was pirate-themed.
“I think getting the whole town to participate and dress up in costumes in one giant theme is just awesome,” he said.
Wall said COVID-19 has definitely had an impact on attendance this year, but many people are still participating.
“It was a little slower than it was the last year we had it, I assume because of the pandemic, but it’s keeping traction so it must be a good event,” he said.
High said he’s happy to have Snowdown back, but worries if it will ever be the same after COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is still impacting Snowdown for sure. Like half the events this year were canceled, which sucks,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t know if we’ll ever see Snowdown the way it used to be.”