After a long winter, local folk yearn for Cabin Fever Days, a weekend celebration perfect for blowing away the season's stifling and confining qualities. The festivities are also a testament to the slightly different but glorious methods used by locals in North West Montana to amuse themselves. Now in its 34th year, the towns of Hungry Horse, Martin City and Coram, collectively known as Bad Rock City, will present this year's annual mayhem on Feb. 10-12.
The biggest draw for folks to the event, is the world-famous bar stool races hosted Saturday and Sunday on snowy Sugar Hill in Martin City. Groomed and primed throughout the season to ensure a decent sledding surface, the races rely on the white stuff for a successful event. Except this year, there isn't enough.
But event organizers are nothing if not creative. "Those of us who plan the festivities have been doing our individual versions of the snow dance," organizers said, and "others have actually been planning to put snow on Sugar Hill." When the dancing rituals failed, Tom Torpin at the Martin City Fire Department was called in and after dutifully stockpiling what little snow there is, the races are on.
Sugar Hill, named after the little sweetness once plied to men in the form of paid sexual favors, will host its famous bar stool races beginning at 1:00 p.m. for qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday. The races, separated into three classes, steerable, non-steerable and the ever-popular, show class, get crazier and more elaborate with each passing year.
For three days, Cabin Fever festivities will nourish you, entertain you and ply you with liquor if so inclined. The three tiny towns, linked by a strip of road 2.59 miles long and five bars, each offer their own version of fun at varying times throughout the weekend.
Not returning from last year is sumo wrestling and the cussing contest, but snowshoe softball, the mountain man competition and a ton of live music is available. The popular arm-wrestling competition at the Stonefly Lounge
in Coram, is returning this year. Endorsed by the American Arm-Wrestling Association, participants can arm-wrestle their way to victory on the same table as Sylvester Stallone did in his 1987 movie, Over the Top
Admission to all events is free, but to take part, you'll need a Cabin Fever Days Button, which costs three bucks and is available just about everywhere in Bad Rock City. “Get out of Jail” buttons are also available – and apparently recommended, although the only real crime that seems to earn a stint in the Cabin Fever Days Jail, is spilling one's beer.
Festivities aside, proceeds from the event do benefit the Canyon Kids Christmas Fund, Martin City Fire Dept., Head Start and the Canyon Quick Response Unit, so it's all in a good cause. There are also events especially earmarked for kids, such as the pool tourney, sled races and the kid's carnival.
Further details, a schedule of events, and accommodation information is available through Cabin Fever Days.com
For a taste of what to expect, here's a video from last year's Cabin Fever festivities by Rocky Mountain Kids. Rest assured, Cabin Fever Days is much safer than the area's annual Fourth of July, Firework Wars.