Chester Bowl ends its winter ski program by looking to future

Chester Bowl
Chester Bowl(Northern News Now)
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 4:54 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. -- On the snowy hills of Chester Bowl, celebrations were all around Sunday for the final day of their winter and ski program.

“Often our March closing day is short sleeves and sunny, but today it’s blizzard conditions and tons of powder so it should be a great day for closing,” said Dave Schaeffer, the Chester Bowl Executive Director.

But inside the chalet, Chester Bowl leaders were looking to the future.

Sunday kicked off the launch of the “Growing Up Chester” fundraising campaign to repair and replace the Thom Storm Chalet.

“It’s a big project,” said Schaeffer. “We’re adding a third level, expanding our footprint, totally renovating and gutting the inside of the building. It’s a $2.7 million project.”

The chalet is 53 years old and opens its doors to thousands each year.

Unfortunately, Chester Bowl leaders said the building is in rough shape.

“We have new roof leaks almost every day, the building is pretty much falling apart, and in addition, it’s just not big enough for the programming that we do,” said Schaeffer.

From the thousands of skiers each winter to the hundreds of campers every summer, memories are made year-round.

Especially for Lauren Skar, who has been going to Chester since she was 11 years old.

“There are so many memories here of playing four-square in one of the corners in summer camp or hiding out in the downstairs staff room during the winter season,” said Skar, a Duluth resident.

From camper to camp counselor, Skar has seen the Chester programs grow into what it is today.

“We have 60 some campers coming in every summer, and we try to fit all of them in here on rainy days,” said Skar. That’s a lot of really sweaty bodies, it’s gross.”

Skar, and others like her, are hoping to raise enough money by next year to keep the magic of Chester Bowl alive for years to come.

“We love this building, but it is in an extreme state of disrepair,” said Schaeffer.

Growing Up Chester has already raised $530,000 in their “quiet fundraising” phase.

In their public fundraising phase, they need to raise $820,000 more.