By Alicia Dziak

It’s almost that time of year again where king and queen reign supreme, dummies grace the slopes and the only thing more fun than throwing beads is collecting them! Yes, Ellicottville’s Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival Weekend will be here March 9-11, and the honor of your presence—or the honor of whoever or whatever you feel like dressing up as—is requested!

The fun begins Friday, March 9 with the Masquerade Party at Madigan’s. From 6 to 9 p.m., enjoy a Louisiana-style menu, lots of drink specials and the crowing of the Mardi Gras king and queen. According to Barb Pump, Communications, Membership and Events Manager for the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, the evening also includes “Great prizes for best Mardi Gras costumes, zaniest people, best head dress, best mask, pretty much a prize for anything we can think of!” Tickets are $35 until March 2 (order at www.ellicottvilleny.com), and $40 at the door. For more information, call (716) 699-5046.

On Saturday, March 10, head to Holiday Valley for their spectacular Winter Carnival, with several new activities on tap. Highlights include the new Snow Kayak demo down Cindy’s, where experts maneuver kayaks down the ski slope. “The North Face Shop in Rochester brought up the idea and we thought it would be great to add some excitement to Carnival,” said Holiday Valley Marketing Director, Jane Eshbaugh.

From noon to 3 p.m., Creekside will host family events that include a DJ dance party, obstacle race, scavenger hunt and kiddie tubing, which are also new additions to the carnival.

At 2 p.m., check out or take part in the bikini/beer slalom on lower Yodeler.

At 3 p.m., don’t miss the Cardboard Box Race, which, according to Eshbaugh, will be held either at Cindy’s or School Haus, and include prizes for most original, funniest, best costumes and fastest time. Entry in the race is $5; details and entry form can be found at holidayvalley.com/carnival.

At 6 p.m., head to the Village for the annual Mardi Gras parade, a spectacle not to be missed. Have no fear—the Ellicottville version is family-friendly! Make it even more fun by entering a float, or come in your zaniest costume and walk in the parade. For more information call (716) 699-5046.

The fun continues Sunday with another full lineup of activities at the Valley. Starting at 9 a.m., grab a bite at the Ski Patrol Pancake Breakfast at the top of Champagne warming hut.

The Costume Parade begins at noon, with line up at 11:45 a.m. Put some effort into those costumes— judging is at the bottom of the hill and the prizes are awesome!

Also at noon is the Lederhosen Ski Club hot dog cookout and Ellicottville Ski Club wine and cheese, located slopeside by Holiday Valley Lodge.

At 2 p.m. head to Yodeler for the Dummy Downhill, where participants send their homemade dummies down the hill. If you’re looking to enter a dummy of your own, here are the requirements: Dummies may not exceed 40 pounds in weight, 6 feet in height or 36 inches in width of stance. Dummies may not use any metal bracing or metal weights. Acceptable construction materials include wood, plastic, wire, tape, foam rubber, vinyl, cardboard or plastic tubing. Dummies should be mounted to skis or a snowboard and may not be living or breathing. Winners are determined by audience applause, so be creative!

Both Saturday and Sunday bring other fun activities to the resort. Grab a drink at the Snowbar—an actual bar constructed of snow at the base of Yodeler. Lawn games will also be set up this year to satisfy that competitive side.

Enjoy face painting at Tannenbaum Lodge and in Customer Service office (near the Main Lodge) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fuel up at the Safety Patrol cookout at the base of Yodeler from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Yodeler Lodge will also host live music from 4 to 8 p.m. both days.

“Winter Carnival is all about fun for everyone – our guests and staff alike!” Eshbaugh said. “It’s a celebration of our 60th Anniversary winter and a welcome to spring skiing and riding.”

Finally, to round out the event, the Holiday Valley Ski Patrol will be holding their annual food drive for the Ellicottville Food Pantry. Donate at Tops Markets March 10 and 11, or bring your donation to the Mardi Gras Parade, when ski patrollers will be roaming the parade route to collect the donations.

Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival is the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy the kind of fun only Ellicottville can offer this time of year. Grab some beads and some friends and get ready for a weekend of non-stop laughs!