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Snowlander Expo + PowderKeg 2015 

What's new this year

click to enlarge Catching air at last year's Rail Jam. - SARAH WURTZ
  • Sarah Wurtz
  • Catching air at last year's Rail Jam.

There could be snow on the ground by Nov. 21. And whether you plan to head up to the mountains this winter to recreate or not, we should all be hoping for some white stuff after this year's wildfire-filled summer. That snowpack does much more than keep our regional ski resorts thriving.

Either way, the Spokane Convention Center's breezeway will be a wintry sight of sorts the Saturday before Thanksgiving, as mounds of man-made snow are trucked in for the Snowlander Expo's Washington Trust Rail Jam. One of the major highlights of last year's winter sports expo, the rail jam competition is a thrilling spectator event as 25 seasoned local skiers, along with 25 snowboarders, take to the rail to show off some sweet tricks. All the snow geeks in attendance will get itching to get out on the slopes to shred themselves.

This year's Expo — the fourth annual winter season kickoff organized by the Inlander — is a few weeks later than usual, happening the weekend before Thanksgiving (Nov. 20-21), which makes it a perfect time to get an early start on your holiday shopping for the powder lovers on your list. As in previous years, local sports and recreation retailers are setting up pop-up stores on the Expo floor, offering their deepest discounts of the season on new gear: skis, boots, boards, coats, accessories — everything to stay warm, dry and comfortable in the cold. Regional stores Wintersport and Tri-State Outfitters are both on site, along with other retailers and product manufacturer reps from widely known brands.

New to 2015's Expo, local expert seminars held throughout Saturday will educate attendees on avalanche awareness and safety, and how to make sure you're wearing properly fitting boots. More seminar topics are being added as the event approaches, with details to be announced soon.

Perhaps the most popular Expo feature of all — because who needs to like snow to enjoy winter's tasty seasonal beers? — is the third annual PowderKeg Brew Fest. So far it's shaping up to be the largest ever, offering samples from more than two dozen craft breweries, cideries and even one meadery: Green Bluff's Hierophant Meadery. A glance at the keg list so far is enticing, so let us share: Lemon Basil cider from One Tree Hard Cider; Orlison Brewing's Cardamom Vanilla Winter Warmer and the Pray for Snow winter ale from 10 Barrel Brewing Co., coming up from Bend, Oregon.

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