A Very Sweet Corn

Corn Fest comes to Cooke City.

Every year in April, the sleepy town of Cooke City comes alive as backcountry aficionados swarm the town for a raucous good time known as Sweet Corn Festival. Put on each year by the Cooke City Bike Shack, The Miner Bar, and other local businesses, Sweet Corn draws all types to the steep slopes of the Beartooths. For a small fee, each morning a snowmobile pulls you up to Daisy Pass—the gathering point for adventures in all directions. You can head north, up the ridge for steep, powder-filled bowls or down the main bowl and across a meadow for wide, tree-lined gullies. To the south and east are long ridges with miles of untracked chutes and small ravines that make an easy trek back the pass. Any point on the compass takes you to great spring skiing amid the dramatic backdrop of jagged peaks. After a few runs in the morning, many take a break atop Daisy Pass and take naps in the sun, or check out new gear and swap stories.

In the Beartooths, snow accumulations run in feet, not inches, even when Bridger and Big Sky have long turned green. There's a carnival air to Sweet Corn, with the whole town buzzing, and few cops to hassle revelers. Even the 'mobilers get into the spirit, often giving a tow to skiers at the bottom of runs. When your quads have had enough for the day, it's a nice long glide through the trees back down to town. Then it's shower, grab some grub, and out to the Miner Bar for a rowdy night. Besides the usually excellent live music, prizes are given out in the bar, including goggles, gloves, even skis. There's a feeling of the Old West lawlessness in the town and one could almost expect to hear pistols going off in the streets and fights in the taverns. But more often than not, the full days of hiking and skiing and the majestic scenery seem to mellow and venerate the participants.

Though it's not the placid and reposeful experience many backcountry trips are, Sweet Corn is just a plain old good time. A weekend of skiing, hiking, riding, just laying in the snow, and partying down. However, not everyone sees this celebration of snow travel as a great time. Many residents come to the small village on the edge of Yellowstone as a respite from the noise and bustle of city life. In response to this, the Sweet Corn Festival is not officially planned this year--though an informal one is in the works. You can call to pledge your support of Sweet Corn at the Cooke City Bike Shack, owned by Bill and Tami Blackford at 406-838-2412 or send an email to [email protected]