What to do with 500 pounds of grapes this time of year?
Why, have a Grape Stomp, of course.
That’s exactly what the city has planned as a Silver City Days highlight – the Trail tradition will make a triumphant return to centre stage on Saturday after an eight-year hiatus from the annual festival.
While many of longer tooth may recall the pomp of the Grape Stomp, there are some newcomers and first time pigeage à pied (winemaking by foot) guests already planning to crush the competition.
This is Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore’s first grape stomp, so she’s following a strict pre-stomp regimen that sounds and probably tastes quite pleasant.
“I am working hard at my training by drinking at least one glass of wine per day,” Moore shared. “And squishing a bunch of grapes between my toes, when I first wake up in the morning – kinda messy but very effective to get the toes in shape,” she added. “And I am also listening to Puccini operas non-stop.”
Moore and Coun. Aaron Cosbey are one of seven teams that include: City of Trail’s Mayor Mike Martin and Coun. Sandy Santori; Councillors Steve Morissette and Bert Kniss of Fruitvale; Montrose Mayor Joe Danchuk and Coun. Mike Walsh; Ali and Cassandra Grieve, Colleen Coffin from Area A; Trail RCMP Sgt. Darren Oelke plus unnamed partner; and Warfield Mayor Ted Pahl with Alice Pahl, his secret weapon.
“I picked up Warfield’s “mini mayor” Alice, my 10 year old daughter,” Pahl chuckled. “I picked her because she has more energy than anyone I know.”
Pahl admits this is his first exposure to the Grape Stomp and he’s still working out a team theme, but says the best part is the invite itself.
“I think it’s great that we are invited to participate,” he shared. “Every time we all get together for a fun event we always have a great time and it really has helped us in building some strong relationships.”
Another mainstay of the stomp is the traditional lead in by the Underwear Band. That leg of the fun has also been resurrected, with the underwear-clad brass ready to escort teams into the arena and onto the stage.
“A number of us are old alumni from Allan’s Underwear Band,” says band member Terry Moon. “This year about 18 of us will don a Smokies sweater and march in the mayors for the Grape Stomp, that’s how this all got started. So it’s just like old times.”
Once the teams march in and emcee Helen Bobbitt introduces them, they’ll be given five minutes to actually stomp. Only one person is allowed in the bucket at a time, but partners can help with siphoning juice into another bucket.
Live Italian music by Roland Perry, Terry Mandoli and Reg Bozzer will provide the back drop and keep the energy flowing.
“It’s harder than it looks,” says City of Trail’s Andrea Jolly. “We are using large plastic tubs with handles and spigots. As the stomper stomps with bare feet, the juice is siphoned into another bucket on the floor. But the winning team, with the most juice in the bucket, will receive the much desired Grape Stomp Trophy!”
No word yet on what the city will do with the juice post crush. But in the past, it’s come back the following year as a vintage red – although it’s unclear whether the wine was for the winners or losers.
“What I used to do when I ran it,” laughed past volunteer Ray Tenisci. “Is, I used to make wine with the juice and give it to the competitors the next year – and make them drink it.”