File photos Ellicottville’s biggest event of the ski season is coming next weekend with the annual Winter Carnival and Mardi Gras Parade in the village and at Holiday Valley.

By Deb Everts

Celebrate Ellicottville’s biggest event of the ski season at Winter Carnival weekend featuring the Mardi Gras Parade March 8 through 10.

There will be fun for everyone in the village and at Holiday Valley.

Barb Pump, events manager for the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, said the Mardi Gras event has been celebrated in Ellicottville for 27 years. She said the weekend kicks off with the annual Junior Bacchus Ball Friday night.

Sponsored by the chamber of commerce, this year’s ticketed gala will be held at Madigan’s from 7 to 9 p.m. A King and Queen Pageant will be featured with a coronation of the royal couple who will reign over the entire Mardi Gras and Winter Carnival.

On Saturday, the annual Mardi Gras Parade is planned to have fantastic floats with marchers and spectators alike wearing their zaniest costumes. This year’s theme is “Walk Through the Decades.”

Pump said the parade will be led by Grand Marshal Chicken Wing King Drew Cerza. She said Punxsutawney Phil and the Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Club will be joining the parade again this year.

Parade participants should start lining up by Katy’s Café on Washington Street and be ready by 6 p.m., so the parade can begin promptly at 6:15 p.m.

For more information on the ball and the parade, check the chamber’s website at or call 699-5046.

The family-fun continues at Holiday Valley’s Winter Carnival, both Saturday and Sunday. Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh said the biggest winter event of the season has been going on for over 50 years, and it just keeps getting better with some new events at the resort and celebrations in the village.

Eshbaugh said the favorite events are back, including the Mardi Gras Parade downtown on Saturday night, as well as the Costume Parade, the Dummy Downhill and the ever popular Snowbar at Holiday Valley.

Newer events include a downhill “Snow Kayaking” demonstration, a kids’ obstacle race and a Ski Patrol Toboggan Contest.

“Carnival is such a fun weekend for our guests and our staff,” she said. “What a great way to welcome spring skiing and riding. And, the bonus is that all those folks who come to town for the event see that there’s plenty of snow for a great spring season ahead.”

Sunday’s Costume Parade takes place at noon on the Mardi Gras slope and contestants must be able to ski or snowboard down the slope.

Eshbaugh said the imagination involved in the costumes is amazing. They’ve had everything from chairlifts and a life-size snow globe to water skiers and a motor boat. She said the stakes are high because the “Best of Show” adult and child win season passes for the 2019-20 season.

There are categories for single adults, single children and groups. To enter the parade, contestants should be at the top of Mardi Gras by 11:30 a.m.

Eshbaugh said Costume Parade entrants are encouraged to wear their costumes and participate in the Mardi Gras Parade held Saturday in the village at 6:15 p.m.

The Holiday Valley snowmaking crew creates a giant Snowbar each year, just outside Yodeler Lodge. Eshbaugh said this location is the center of action both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. with a DJ, the Safety Patrol Cookout, Mercy Flight lawn games and the Dummy Downhill.

Profits from the Snowbar are donated to local charities. Mercy Flight will be holding a raffle with first prize of a scenic helicopter ride for two.

Everyone’s favorite Dummy Downhill takes place Sunday at 2 p.m. on a course built at the bottom of Yodeler slope in full view of the Snowbar and Yodeler Lodge patrons. Eshbaugh said dummies are constructed of wood, plastic, cardboard — even hot dog rolls — but no metal is allowed. They must be no taller than six-feet and no heavier than 40-pounds.

“The dummies may not be living and breathing,” she said. “They are paraded through the crowd and then pulled up the slope. ‘Mountie’ Doug McVeigh, the traditional starter, gives the OK and the dummies are sent down the slope one by one, over a jump and then they crash into a wall of snow.”

Awards for dummies will be given to the best design, the biggest air and the best crash. Entry forms are available at Customer Service or at

Saturday activities include Ski Patrol Pancake Breakfast, top of Champagne Slope at the Warming Hut, 9 a.m. until gone; Safety Patrol Cookout, base of Yodeler, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Snowbar, base of Yodeler, noon to 4:30 p.m.; Family events, Creekside, noon to 3:30 p.m.; Mo Porter will perform Classic Rock, Yodeler Lodge, 3 to 7 p.m.; and Mardi Gras Parade, village of Ellicottville, 6:15 p.m.

Sunday activities include Ski Patrol Pancake Breakfast, top of Champagne Slope at the Warming Hut, 9 a.m. until gone; Safety Patrol Cookout, base of Yodeler, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Line up for Costume Parade, Edelweiss Lean-to on Mardi Gras, 11:45 a.m.; Costume Parade down Mardi Gras, judging at bottom, noon; Lederhosen Ski Club Hot Dog Cookout and Ellicottville Ski Club with wine and cheese, slopeside at Holiday Valley Lodge, noon; Snowbar, Yodeler, noon to 4:30 p.m.; Dummy Downhill, Yodeler, $5 entry, 2 p.m.; Mercy Flight Raffle Drawing, 3 p.m.

The ski patrol is holding a food drive to benefit the Ellicottville Food Pantry. People may donate at Tops Market, March 10 and 11, or bring their donation to the village parade.

To find out more about the Winter Carnival events, call 699-3904. Full schedules are available at and