Chamber ends pond hockey event

September 1, 2018

The Kalispell Convention and Visitors Bureau is making some big changes to a couple of the events they host to pull visitors to the valley outside of typical tourism high points.

The Pond Hockey Classic, which was typically held in February, has been canceled due to increasingly warm and unpredictable winter weather. Meanwhile, the annual Montana Dragon Boat Festival, which will be held this year from Sept. 7-9 in Lakeside, will be handed over to the Bigfork Area Chamber of Commerce next year.

After having to cancel the pond hockey event due to uncooperative weather in both 2016 and 2018, Kalispell Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Diane Medler said they made the decision to direct their resources elsewhere.

A press release announcing the change cited the “continuing uncertainty of winter weather” in canceling the event, which has traditionally been held on Foy’s Lake.

“We applied a great deal of creativity trying to determine a safe, enjoyable way to hold the classic. But there was no way to ensure that weather wouldn’t again undermine the event,” Medler said in a prepared statement. “While everyone understands the unpredictability of weather, we decided not to continue an event that could possibly give people negative feelings about planning a trip to Kalispell.”

Medler also said that the transition of handing the Dragon Boat Classic over to another organization had been in their plans since the event’s inception in 2012.

“The Dragon Boat Festival was started at a time when September tourism was not strong in Kalispell,” Medler said. “Now that we have established it as a sustainable signature event in the Flathead Valley, we are excited to turn it over to a long term presenter.”

Next year’s event will return to Wayfarer’s State Park the Bigfork area, where it was previously held from 2012 through 2014.

The Kalispell Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes to use the extra resources created by getting the two events off its plate to develop additional events in the future.

Reporter Peregrine Frissell can be reached at (406) 758-4438 or pfrissell@dailyinterlake.com.

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