SOS Fair_Rothwell

Tables of ski boots and other winter gear line the gymnasium at Big Sky High School during the second day of the annual SOS Fair put on by the Montana Snow Bowl Ski Patrol on Nov. 10, 2019.

Students and community members waited in a line that wrapped around the Big Sky High School gymnasium Nov. 10 to buy second-hand winter sports equipment at the annual Safety on Snow (SOS) fair.

“The line trickled in and it took about 12 minutes for the line to fully get in the door. So it went out and all the way around,” said Erin Jones, one of the coordinators of this event.

The event is sponsored by the Snowbowl Volunteer Ski Patrol, and in exchange for using the space, consignors give 15-25% of their earnings to the Ski Patrol. The Ski Patrol uses this money for training, equipment, medical supplies and other materials.

At first held in the basement of Savings and Loans Bank 51 years ago, the SOS Fair has since become extremely popular. During some years, 800 people have been in the door within the first 10 minutes of the event, according to Jones.

Students and others can buy equipment such as skis, snowboards, trekking poles, gloves, jackets and even sleeping pads at the event.

Erin Meek, a second-year student at the University of Montana, went to this event last year and came back again this year.

“Skis for $150 with bindings and gloves for 20 bucks. We’re so excited!” Meek said.

There were also tables for local skiing services and clubs, including a booth for the University of Montana Ski Club. This is the club’s second year volunteering at the SOS Fair. According to Henry DeLuca, one of the ski club founders, the fair provides a valuable opportunity to give back to the skiing community.

“It’s a great way for us to go and be a part of a bigger thing than ourselves,” DeLuca said. “Because as a club you should help out.”

The SOS Fair has several loyal volunteers, one of which has worked every fair but four. Steve Thompson said the only reason he missed the four fairs was because he was in the Air Force and was stationed overseas. When asked why he volunteers every year, his response was immediate:

“It’s a big family. She’s part of the family. She’s one of our daughters,” Thompson said.

The SOS Fair is scheduled to take place next year with the same intentions of supporting the local community.

“It is a great service to the skiing community,” Thompson said. “It gives people a chance to get into the world of skiing for a little less money than buying something new.”