Reigniting the Fernie Fire

In 1904 fire raged through Fernie and razed the entire downtown core to the ground. In 1908, fire took hold once again and destroyed the entire city in just 90 minutes but by 1910, Fernie was reborn in the beautiful brick and mortar that can be seen today. These days, we prefer to burn things up a little more creatively- whether it’s blazing a mountain trail on foot or wheels, firing things up on the greens or dancing with the fire spinners at Wapiti - Fernie’s Music Festival, August is one smokin’ hot month.

Biking is front and centre in August, starting with the Highline 100 on Saturday 6. This popular road bike ride (not race!) takes participants through the South Country to the US Border and back again via some tasty treats including cinnamon buns and ice-cream cones. The 100km ride ends in Zumland, while the majority of riders chose to take the 100mi option ending back at Highline Drive where a friendly BBQ dinner awaits. There is also an alternate start/finish option which avoids Hwy #3 entirely. TransRockies has been criss-crossing the mountains between Fernie and Canmore since 2002. Previous successes with the Fernie time trial and day two and three starts will be repeated this year to bring hundreds of mountain bike enthusiasts from around the world to ride Fernie’s epic trail system on August 7-9, with its first finish at Island lake on day three. Racers will then begin the push to Canmore on Wednesday 10. The Fernie Mountain Bike Club offers one of the best spectator options of the summer at the Wam Bam Dirt Jump Jam on Saturday 20 at the jump park in downtown Fernie. This event was a huge hit last year on the newly built park, wowing the crowd with incredible aerial tricks and huge air. There’s yet more biking thrills at the Fernie Alpine Resort Mountain Bike Festival to round out the month’s activities on August 20 and 21 including demos, races and entertainment.

If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, golfers, runners and music lovers all get their day in August too. It’s time for the ladies to shine at the Fernie Ladies Amateur Open on Monday 15 and the Kootenay Ladies Team Challenge on Tuesday 16. Trail running may not yet have quite the same following as mountain biking in Fernie, but that may all be about to change. Last year’s inaugural Tears and Gears duathlon in September proved that there are more than enough runners in Fernie willing to burn up the trails, and this year offers another brand new event dedicated purely to mountain trail running; the organisers of Heiko’s Hellish Half have chosen perhaps one of the most beautiful trails around for the race on August 28. Racers will be bussed to the start line to the North East of Fernie, and will run ‘home’ across stunning mountain passes and valleys, challenging the steeps, rocks, ravines, trees and wildlife along the way. Hopefully the hellish run will be tempered by the heavenly views and clean mountain air.

Kids get to set their wheels on fire on Wednesday 24 at the ever popular Soapbox Derby at Castle Mountain Road. The Knights of Columbus work very hard to create a fun, safe event for local kids and community support is very important for this huge event. Please consider sponsoring a cart or come down to the event to cheer them on and buy a hot dog. Younger kids get to throw water on the fire at the Water Wonders series being hosted by the Elk River Alliance. Workshops on Tuesday 2 and 9 will focus on promoting water stewardship from an early age through interactive games, science experiments and visiting wetland areas.

As if all that wasn’t enough, we’ve even got a music festival in August! The long awaited Wapiti is finally here, and this is going to be one big party. Fantastic acts have been lined up to take to the stage including home-grown stars like foot stomping, fun loving Shred Kelly and the funky folksy fantasy of Big Bubba Tres plus other hot new names from across the country including Vancouver's Said The Whale and Library Voices from Regina. This event promises to offer a unique, fresh take on modern Canadian Indie music for the very best price of any summer music festival around. The organisers have worked hard to create a sustainable event that will contribute to the social and economic development of Fernie and expect sold out audiences for this first annual event. So get your tickets early, and leave your car at home. The Annex Park location puts the festival within a ten minute bike ride from just about anywhere in Fernie and a secure bike check area will be available.

So whatever your passion is this August, Fernie has what you need to get fired up. Just remember the sunscreen, it's gonna be a scorcher.

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