It's Welcome Week in Whistler, that beautiful time of year when flocks of fresh-faced seasonals descend upon our resort town, signaling the start to yet another snowy winter.
It also means cheap (or free!) food for as far as the eye can see, because we all know the most direct way to a twenty-something's heart is through their stomach. There's the piles of grub generously cooked up by some of Whistler's top chefs at the Jill Ackhurst Community Welcome Dinner for just $5. There's the last few glorious days of shoulder season restaurant deals. And on Nov. 21, the Whistler Museum is rolling out the welcome mat with a buffet of epic proportions.
"We're trying to feed as many people as we can," said programs manager Jeff Slack. The museum has been running Feeding the Spirit as part of Welcome Week for several years as a way to connect newcomers with long-time locals and provide a glimpse to a side of the community they may not be familiar with.
"We get a lot of people in here, get them familiarized with the museum and a little bit of awareness of Whistler's history, but we also give them a sense of community in general so they realize this isn't just a faceless ski resort where people go to their jobs, party and then leave at the end of the season," said Slack.
As past years have proven, when as many as 200 people have filtered through the museum for the event, the offer of free food is too good for many to pass up.
"In fact it can be too good an incentive," Slack said. "The only negative aspect of the event is the people who don't show up right away and feel there's not the food that they expected. But there's only so much we can do. Do you walk around town screaming 'free food and prizes?'"
Creekside Market has generously donated this year's grub. Museum staff has also rounded out the cold buffet spread using Nesters points donated to the museum by members of the community. On top of that, prizes from Purebread, Splitz Grill, Whistler Roasting Company and more will be up for grabs. But beef up on your local history first.
"We'll make people answer a historical question, but it will be a really easy one," Slack said.
The Whistler Museum has broadened its mandate in recent years to offer engaging programming, both within its walls and in the community, that fall outside the traditional purview of your typical history museum. Slack said the museum's No. 1 priority is and always will be educating the public on Whistler's unique heritage, but that the facility's limited space has forced staff to think "outside the box."
"We think of ourselves as a bit more of a general-purpose community organization in addition to (a historical society)," he said. "Culture doesn't just live in the past, culture is happening and ongoing, so we try to insert ourselves into the community and contemporary culture as well."
Feeding the Spirit runs Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Slack urged those interested to come early so they don't miss out on the free noms.
"If for some reason you show up and the food is not as bounteous as you were hoping for, please don't get mad at us."