Gilson Snow, a Winfield, PA-based company that designs and builds snowboards and skis, recently hosted their 2023 Summer Snow Day, and once again, it was awesome! The event is held annually at the facility grounds in New Berlin, but had to overcome significant adversity this year to pull the event together. In November of 2022, their manufacturing facility, which is affectionately known as “The Farm,” burned to the ground. The loss was devastating but was certainly not the end of Gilson. The team quickly got to work not only to rebuild their factory but to celebrate their region. In addition to the success of its Summer Snow Day, the company is currently working on its new manufacturing facility that will be located just off Market Street in Selinsgrove, with more than four times the space of its previous facility. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing community and team behind us, and we couldn’t be more excited to turn on our new American manufacturing facility in September,” said Andrew Mikowski, Chief Revenue Officer of Gilson.
For those new to the Gilson Summer Snow Day — think part beerfest, part concert, and part sports festival. Food trucks were present to feed the hungry masses, and a Kids’ Zone included games, bounce houses, slides, and a play area. The event was also pet-friendly, with doggie water stations throughout the grounds. Athletic events included the Rail Jam and the Snow Beast Challenge. For the Rail Jam, actual snow was brought in, and skiers and snowboarders competed on “Iron Mountain,” doing tricks and runs for over $2,000 in cash and prizes. The Snow Beast Challenge included mechanical bull riding for time, axe throwing, and the ever-popular keg toss, where, once again, Gabrielle Bellomo dominated, maxing out the height bar and drawing a crowd.
Vendors included a variety of artisans such as food trucks, wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries. There were also supporters giving demonstrations, selling crafts, and providing other products and services. One of the newcomers was Bermuda Ball, which is an innovative, triangular yard game. Think combination ski-ball and corn hole. Co-owner and founder Kenna Pick was on hand to give demonstrations and explain the rules. When asked how business was going, he responded, “booming.” Bermuda Ball, based in State College, is quickly becoming a staple yard game and is perfect for picnics, tailgating, and outdoor gatherings of any size. bermudaballllc.com.
Bald Birds Brewing and Four Birds Distilling Company were among the many craft breweries in attendance. Lori Walters, district sales manager, was repping many fine products and available for questions. (I may have also had a couple of samples during our interview. Purely research.) Owners Joe and Abby Feerrar and the rest of the Bald Birds team are dedicated to creating the highest quality beer and serving it in an engaging, comfortable atmosphere. In addition to creating quality beer, they produce fine spirits through a sister company, Four Birds Distilling.
*Insider tip: Try their Royal Mosaic (cans only) if you’re a fan of IPAs or for something with a little higher ABV, the Italian Grandmother, an Italian dessert stout with hints of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. Bald Birds Brewing has locations in Audubon, PA, and Jersey Shore, PA. Four Birds Distilling Co. is located in Havertown, PA, and Jersey Shore, Pa., along with baldbirdsbrewing.com and fourbirdsdistilling.com.
One of the returning vendors was The Hatchet House, located in downtown Williamsport. The Hatchet House is Lycoming County’s only axe-throwing venue and welcomes all ages. Manager Sophie Bittenbender explained why it was important to participate in the Gilson Summer Snow Day this year. “We have been coming here the past couple of years, and we love promoting small businesses, but also, this year, all of our proceeds will go to the firefighters who helped Gilson when they had a fire. It’s a great cause, and we wanted to be a part of that.” The Hatchet House was also one of the sponsors of the Snow Beast Challenge, where points were tallied from three throws with both men’s and women’s categories. Top axe throwers received prizes. FYI, the Hatchet House is BYOB (Beer or Wine) and offers a variety of non-alcoholic drinks and food at their SNAXE Bar! PaHatchethouse.com.
Another veteran sponsor of the Summer Snow Day was the Keystone Wood Products Association (KWPA), which aims to strengthen and expand the base of lumber and wood products manufacturers in the Central Pennsylvania region. KWPA is a non-profit trade organization serving Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, and Union counties. Stephanie Phillips-Taggart, marketing coordinator for KWPA, was kind enough to give an overview of the organization and explained the KWPA was formed in 2006 by a core group of lumber and wood companies. In addition, the $1.7 billion of production by the wood products industry accounts for 15% of the total manufacturing output of the region and 5% of the region’s total economy. The wood products industry also employs almost 12,000 people in the region and has a regional impact of approximately $2.3 billion. She went on to say that the organization’s goals include promoting career opportunities in the wood industry through education and partnerships and promoting sustainable forest management practices. keystonewoodpa.org.
One of the original vendors of the Gilson Summer Snow Day that was in attendance this year was Spyglass Ridge Winery and Three Beards Brewing. When asked why he and his companies were motivated to participate in the 2023 Gilson Summer Snow Day, owner Tom Webb responded, “Three Beards, I, along with Levi Strauss, part owner of the brewery, had supported the event even before Gilson had their Snow Day.” He said Three Beards was the only brewery participating in the first couple of years. “Last year, we ran out of beer and had to get another five kegs. This event is fun for us and a way for us to get out of the office. We are not here selling anything or making money. This is just a fun day for us.” threebeardsbrew.com and spyglassridgewinery.com.
In spite of a factory fire earlier in the year, Gilson came through once again to celebrate the best of what this area has to offer and to show their appreciation to their employees, customers, and neighbors. As promised, this year’s event combined live entertainment with great food and drink. It was a way to bring the community together and remind everyone what a great and unique area we live in.