The summer season has officially arrived at SilverStar Mountain Resort in Vernon.
The season kicked off with the opening of the bike park Friday, June 23, and on Saturday the parking lot was full with people on mountain bikes, hiking trails, restaurant patios and in front of a massive stage hosting live music all day.
On Saturday guests were treated to the Polson Artisan Market in the village, and some took part in a trail running race. Bands organized by Local Losers, as well as some DJs, played the main stage.
Tomorrow, June 25, is the Hike for Hospice event up at the mountain in support of the North Okanagan Hospice Society. Hikers can choose from easy, moderate and experienced trails during the event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will also be a free midday concert by Daniel James McFadyen.
Michelle Leroux, public relations person for Destination Silver Star, said there’s plenty to look forward to this season at the mountain, including the first stop of the 2023 Canada Cup Series mountain bike race, which is running alongside the B.C. Cup and B.C. Downhill Mountain Bike Provincial Championships. Those races take place July 8-9.
“And then we have Crankworx, which is the biggest freeride mountain bike festival in the world,” said Leroux. The second stop of the Crankworx Summer Series Canada takes place at SilverStar Aug. 4-6, bringing some of the world’s best riders to the bike park for three days of racing. New this year is a female category of the freestyle slope-style event, which will see female riders take on huge jumps doing a ton of tricks.
After the racing is done, it’s time for a culinary experience. SilverStar’s annual Wine Festival returns Aug. 10-13, bringing together some of the region’s most renowned winemakers. The festival is devoted exclusively to B.C. wineries. Wine seminars, wine dinners and the signature walk-around tasting event are on tap Saturday, Aug. 12. The weekend will also feature live music and a Polson Park Artisan Market pop-up featuring local vendors.
Leroux notes the wine seminars are a new feature of the festival this year, and there will be wines from 25 regional wineries to sample.
Then on Sept. 9, SilverStar will host a beer and cider festival.
“Some people don’t like wine, but with beer and cider you’re going to hit the mark with everyone, and a cider festival is kind of unique, you don’t hear of them that often,” said Leroux. “And because this region has so many orchards, amazing cideries, why wouldn’t we highlight them as well?”
Shuttle buses will be coming to and from Vernon during the wine, beer and cider festivals, which can be added onto your ticket.
Leroux said this will be the first summer that’s fully “back to normal” after COVID-19, which only adds to the excitement.
“I think there was a bit of a hangover (after COVID). We’ve had an amazing winter season, record-breaking snow, and then you roll into a new summer season where everything is normal, tourism is returning, it’s come back so strong. So I think that’s the excitement there.”
On opening day, 95 per cent of the mountains bike trails were open, “which is incredible after the amount of snow we had,” said Jennifer Edwards, marketing manager for Destination Silver Star.
Edwards says the turnout for opening weekend has been great, with the restaurants full and people enjoying the different activities on offer.
Cassandra Zerebeski, executive director of Destination Silver Star, says some of the trails have been updated this year to make them more accessible and suitable for all skill levels.
“Trails like Challenger, which are green trails, those trails were just updated to be more beginner ready. As well you can cut out and do blue sections too, so whether you’re more progressing in your riding or you’re new and just wanting to check it out, they’re ready,” she said.
Camping is about to get a lot more popular on the mountain, too. Zerebeski says SilverStar obtained $775,000 in funding from the province this spring to build a campground, as well as do some beautification in the village. The campground will have 100 campsites, including about a dozen year-round sites, which will provide increased parking capacity in the winter when the bulk of the campsites aren’t in use. Zerebeski said the campground will be ready by the middle of next summer.
There are already plenty of campers making use of SilverStar’s existing campsites.
“Last night it was great to see all the campers come in and hanging out for the weekend. People come from across the region and across the province,” said Zerebeski.
For more information, visit destinationsilverstar.com.