The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Whitecap Mountains christens resort with inaugural Oktoberfest


October 8, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

GIGGLING ON a bounce house at Saturday's Oktoberfest celebration at Whitecap Mountains in Upson, Wis., are Audrey Nelis-Stone with her head thrown back and her cousin, Kaylin Secord, with a freshly painted face.


UPSON, Wis. - The first Oktoberfest at Whitecap Mountains Resort in Upson featured a crisp, colorful Saturday with participants arriving in rows of cars or all-terrain vehicles.

A large, white tent greeted them with jukebox music and enticing aromas of picnic-style foods, along with hot and cold beverages.

Gina Secord, of Odanah, was ushering her daughter, Kaylin, and her niece, Audrey Nelis-Stone, to a hay ride after some rowdy playtime in a bounce house.

"I knew they were going to have fun when they took off their jackets," said Secord. "And then the socks came off and they were having a blast."

Kaylin Secord also had her face painted, and all kids in attendance also were able to enjoy a bean bag toss, a scavenger hunt and a clown making balloons.

Inside the resort, Teresa O'Brien of Northwoods Kindness Rocks directed kids and adults in rock painting, which included participants Riley Kangas, Leanna Nelmark; Nelmark's niece, Scarlett Stricker; and Nelmark's son, Austin Legault.

Also inside was a craft sale featuring Halloween cookies, hand-crafted wooden furniture and other decorative items. Michaela Perlberg, of Hurley, was selling clothing.

The day began with a 10 a.m. "tapping ceremony," which involved tapping a keg of beer. Later, several hearty folks participated in a beer stein running contest, in which they were required to run a marked course while holding full steins of beer.

Some of the participants who gamely ran the course were Justin Legault, of Iron Belt, and husband-and-wife contest winners Kevin and Kristy Kangas, of Montreal.

Whitecap Mountains, on Weber Lake and County Road East, has been the new project of manager David Dziuban since early this year when he took over the operation.

Although Whitecap was "strictly a ski resort in the past," he said of its current status, "This is a 4-season facility, and that's how we're going to run it."

Whitecap featured its first annual golf tournament in the last weekend of September, and it plans a Rock Star Rail Jam, a snowboard and ski event, on Dec. 22.

Dziuban said the first annual Dave and Evie Lundberg Memorial Ski Race will be on Feb. 16, 2019. It will honor the resort's former owners, who both died this year after owning Whitecap since 1966.

Next year will also be the Midwest Snowmakers' Cup Race on Feb. 23. Dziuban said all ski resorts in the Midwest will be invited to send their snowmakers here to participate in races or just to "have some fun." He added of the snowmakers, "They're an important part of the resort."

Dziuban said March 2, 2019 will feature a Winter Carnival with a full day of ski races, followed by fireworks at night. He described the carnival as "a family event."

The new manager also is partnering with Hurley's Paavo Nurmi Marathon, scheduled for next summer, by offering via Whitecap an Aug. 3 Warrior Challenge running event that he said will be of an Iron Man style race. In addition, he said Whitecap will offer a Paavo Pursuit on Aug. 11, which will involve three bike races that start and end at Whitecap.

Dziuban has 16 years of experience in resort management and has worked previously in Vermont, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. He said he's continuing his passion here because "the snow business gets in your blood."

At this time, he said, "The most common comment I get is 'What is this place?' People didn't even know we were here." He is investing at least $2.5 million in hopes of fulfilling his four-season resort goal.

Saturday's Oktoberfest concluded with live music by the band Lake Effect.

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