On Friday, Nov. 29, the lights at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort will be turned on for the first time since 2007.
The ski area, which opened in 1959, has been closed because of bankruptcy and sale proceedings. The new owner is Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park, based out of Portland.
The grand opening event Friday runs from 5 to 11 p.m. It will feature heated tents, music, raffles, food and beverages. Participants can pay a fee to play in a small area where rails and jumps will be covered in snow.
“It’s very exciting,” said Middlefield First Selectman Jon Brayshaw. “People have been anticipating and waiting and counting the days.”
Extensive work needed to be done to get Powder Ridge ready for skiers, said Laura Loffredo, director of sales and marketing at Powder Ridge and Brownstone. While the park was closed, buildings were damaged by the elements and vandalism, she said.
Work at the ski lodge continues. The first floor remains a cafeteria with lockers and retail space, while the second floor is being converted into the Fire at the Ridge restaurant.
There will be rooms for patrons to sit by a fireplace or play games.
The Powder Ridge management team plans to keep the ski area open beyond winter. With three lifts and a snow-making machine, Loffredo said Powder Ridge is expected to stay open year-round. The pond on the mountain was doubled from its 4 million gallon capacity to 8 million gallons to create artificial snow.
The man-made snow is similar to artificial turf, and is common in Europe, Loffredo said.
“There’s been a huge amount of support on our website ... This mountain is very loved by the neighborhood and the entire state,” Loffredo said. “Opening night is a big celebration for the town.”
Brayshaw added that the reopening of Powder Ridge is a “long time coming” for Middlefield.
“It’s like a piece of our town’s fabric has been put back in place and the town enjoyed Powder Ridge ski area for nearly five decades,” he explained. “It’s certainly a part of our life here in Middlefield.”
The town bought the 246-acre park in 2008 for $2.55 million. Last year it agreed to sell the property for $700,000. Brownstone anticipated spending more than $3 million to re-open.