Great Bear Recreation Park winds up its season with its annual Snirt Fest. Snirt, a word combining snow and dirt, celebrates that 'tweener season when spring skiing brings on dodging a few brown spots on ski hills and roadside snow gets blanketed with black grit.

The park throws its annual Snirt Fest party in early March. "Every year we change theme," events coordinator Jill Lerdal told "Everyone dresses up in costumes. Last year, it was a formal affair with ties and long dresses. People go all out and even order costumes." This year's Snirt Fest Mar. 7 brought out the purple, green, and gold beads for its Mardi Gras theme.

Contests pack out the Snirt Fest day-obstacle course races, pond skimming, the costume competition, and a snowmaker hose race. The hose race with elimination rounds starts at top of hill. Four team members unroll a hose, pick it up together, ski through a course, and roll it back up at the bottom. The day pretty much ends in mayhem. "A few years ago, we started a tradition of a cake fight at end," added Lerdal.

The contests changed a bit this year, as fees to enter events were replaced with a food drive for entry. The all-day party this year culminated with ball--a dance and live music in the bar decorated to the hilt for the Mardi Gras bash.

Great Bear usually closes down for the season in early March. "It's been a pretty good season all in all, but we never make it to St. Patrick's Day," said Lerdal. (Imagine what Great Bear would do for that event). Season passes for next year go on sale in September.