Dawn2Dusk welcomed the Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival to town Saturday night at the Hudson Bay Lodge.
About 300 people came out to the event, that featured a series of short films, a feature-length documentary, silent and live auctions and an after party.
“I think it was pretty awesome,” organizer Dave Harris, who owns Dawn2Dusk outdoor gear shop, said.
“We had a great turnout and everyone had a great time.”
Numbers were a little lower than expected, with the car accident on Hwy. 16 preventing a number of people from Hazelton making the trip, but that didn’t stop organizers from reaching their fundraising goals.
A silent auction was held during the festival, with a number of donated items bringing in some record bids.
The premiere item up for grabs on the night was a pair of custom carved skis by artist Roy Henry Vickers. Chrissy Chapman won them, with a bid of $2,500.
Other high-grossing items included Skeena Heli-Skiing jackets that went for $600, an avalanche kit, provided by SilverKing Helicopters, at $500, and a two- night stay at the Hudson Bay Lodge Spirit of the West room that took in $300.
In total, the event raised just over $11,000 for the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
“We chose to donate the proceeds of this event to the [SWCC] because of what’s going on with the [Joint Review Panel] and the pipelines and we just want them to be able to raise awareness about these issues, to help people sort out the facts,” Harris said.
“We think the watershed is a really great cause.”
More than that, Harris and his co-organizer and business partner Damien Kern hope to continue to build and promote an outdoor winter lifestyle in Smithers and the surrounding area.
“I moved to Smithers because I want to live in a ski and snowboard town.
“I want to build that town and make more events like this happen and ingrain that lifestyle into our culture a bit more.”
Harris said the duo also have plans to host a local winter film festival, featuring films from Smithers residents at some point in the future.
“We would like to give a big thank you to the community as a whole, for supporting us and to all the local businesses who donated to this cause,” Harris added.
The films on offer were selected back in late summer by a panel at a festival in Boise, Idaho.
Now in its ninth year, the Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival aims to entertain while helping to raise funds and awareness for Winter Wildlands.
The Backcountry Film Festival travels to more than 100 locations worldwide.
Smithers and Nelson are the only two Canadian destinations on the schedule for this year’s festival.
During it’s winter run, the Backcountry Film Festival is viewed by more than 20,000 people across North America and raises more than $110,000 each year for local organizations in each given community.
Films shown on Saturday evening were from the Valhalla Film Festival in Idaho, and included the winners in various categories, including: Best of Festival: Valhalla is the tale of one man’s search to rediscover the freedom of his youth; Best Conservation Film: Bolton Valley, the story of how a small community fought to save their beloved ski area; and Best Short: Bigger, Braver. Filmmaker Luc Mehl turns the camera on a young female athlete who shares her insight into the courage and strength involved in seeking big mountain adventure.
Film festival organizers plan to continue the fundraiser next year.