The WICed Fest (Wakeboarding In Connecticut Festival) started as a small, rather informal gathering of 50-100 wakeboarders from all over the Northeast. Originated in 1998 by Rob Anderson, owner/operator of AXIS Boardsports, and Dan DeLaiarro, then a college student at UMass Amherst, WICed Fest strode in the same footsteps as it older siblings such as Boardstock, MidWest WakeFest, Louisiana Spring Fling and many other grassroots wakeboard festivals. The 1998 WICed Fest was all about riding. We rode Lake Lillinonah hard until dark, ate, drank, slept and rode again. As the years progressed, the festival grew into much more and moved venues (Candlewood Lake became our home).
During the course of the weekend long festivities, WICed Festers were exposed to many different events including nightly parties, a plethora of bands, contests, giveaways, tons of freeriding and, of course, the opportunity to hang out with some of the coolest wakeboarders north of the Mason/Dixon line. From that small festival in 1998, the WICed Fest grew into a monster blowout that drew an estimated 800+ people in 2002. People showed up from all over the country to party and ride with some of the craziest wakeboarders in the country.
Unfortunately, in 2003, Mother Nature didn’t cooperate with the WICed Fest. That year’s event had to be cancelled due to crazy thunderstorms that were rolling through the area. For reasons to numerous (and painful) to list, the defining wakeboard event in the Northeast never took place in its native form again.
But all was not lost. A small, ‘core’ crew of Festers had evolved due to the early success that the WICed Fest enjoyed in 1998 and 1999. This crew, who hung out together year-round, decided that they would throw together what was supposed to be a small snowboard trip in the early winter of 2000. This snowboard trip, started by just 14 Festers, has become an annual winter institution that has proudly taken place every single year since 2000. This event, at its peak, has attracted a group of 25+ friends to ride the wild New England slopes. And, as the summer festivities died out, this WICed Fest Snowboard Trip has been the glue that bonds for these hardcore riders in the Northeast.
For those of us there in the beginning, the term WICed Fest has evolved from its semi-acronymic meaning to being a mindset and a yearly right of passage. For our friends who have been inducted into the fold over the years, the term WICed Fest means riding and fun with the crew. But, no matter who you talk to, they’ll tell you that the New Year has become synonymous with a trip to one of New England’s pristine mountains in an effort to rekindle the friendships and brotherhood that the WICed Fest has grown into. In terms of weather, we’ve had trips that have been nothing short of phenomenal and we’ve had trips that test our patience. But, through it all, the WICed Festers gather to share in that camaraderie that only riding sideways can give you.
And the best part about the WICed Fest is that we we’re a welcoming bunch. Join the mailing list and come on a trip. You’ll see that we’re probably the friendliest bunch of riders (and occasional skiers) that you’ll ever meet. We look forwarding to bombing the hill with you and downing a pint or two afterwards!