In the middle of Main Street outside Whiskey’s, two long tables glistened with spilled Pabst Blue Ribbon from the late afternoon sun. Directly surrounding the tables were beer-soaked teams of four, wide-eyed drinkers in the midst of the spring of their lives and looking for a slice of Sol Fest glory.
Up and down the tables they ran: pitching mugs, catching mugs, drinking mugs. Of course, doing everything as fast as stupidly possible. Beer was in the air and on the ground. It didn’t matter. This was as much about showmanship as heavy drinking. A black line of tape kept players two feet from the table’s end, guaranteeing that every glass got airtime before soaring, hopefully, into the hands of its catcher. This madness was Gelande Quaffing, started in the 80’s by Jackson, Wyoming locals, and by the end I was bleeding.
The crowd of hundreds that gathered for Sol Fest’s very own Gelande Quaffing contest was understandably confused and happily drawn to it at the same time. The weather was perfect and the organizers had closed off Main Street from Sun Valley Road to Second Street for the revelry.
As for the Quaffing itself, players were catching mugs between the legs, by the handle, two at a time — and sometimes not at all. The best part was that every catch concluded in a violent free-for-all chug in an attempt to get the beer right in the mouth. Naturally self-perpetuating and increasingly loud, this was a drinking game by definition, played between streetlights to multi-generational cheers. To clarify, Gelande Quaffing is a contest in which each team has a minute to drink all they can, with extra style points being awarded for catches that include, well, anything… After a certain number of rounds, the team with the most cumulative points wins. For those who don’t know, the word “Gelande” literally means “terrain jump” and is a shortened form of “Gelandesprung,” or ski jumping with alpine bindings. Look it up. “Quaff,” on the other hand, is “to drink heartily.”
I hesitate to add, “so if you missed out,” because Main Street was packed from four o’clock on and you were probably there. Following this town’s first annual Gelande Quaffing Championships, Blitzen Trapper hit the stage and jammed out a great set. Afterward, it was on to the 511 Building for a serious rail jam, hosted by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and won by local, Colter Brehmer, under the lights. The warm sun set slowly that evening and with all the endless SolFest fun, there was no reason to be anywhere else.
In other words, I hope you guys had a good weekend. Because I sure did.
Don't miss this video of team training for the Gelande Quaffing World Championships