The unofficial start of the winter ski season kicks off next weekend in Southern Oregon when the Medford Ski Education Foundation holds its annual Ski and Snowboard Swap.
The event is set for Friday-Sunday, Nov. 11-13, in the multipurpose room at St. Mary's School, 816 Black Oak Drive, Medford.
While the event will look and feel like most previous years, the times to swap and save have changed because of the needs of other groups for the venue, says Ron Johnson, the swap meet's coordinator.
It's always been Veteran's Day Weekend, but we're opening a little earlier on Friday and closing a little earlier on Sunday," Johnson says.
Several large merchants will offer deals on new and used ski and snowboarding equipment. They will operate alongside private sellers looking for some extra holiday cash or an equipment upgrade.
Representatives from the Mt. Ashland Ski Area will be on hand to take photographs and issue season passes so skiers and snowboarders won't have to travel to the company's Ashland office or wait in long lines opening day for their passes.
The annual swap is a way to recycle usable gear, and it's popular among families whose young athletes can grow out of their gear almost annually.
The event has grown every year, even during poor snow seasons that included Mt. Ashland's failure to open during the 2013-14 season. The swap annually boasts about 2,500 items for sale.
People who have used snowboards, skis, boots, helmets and clothing to sell must check in the equipment prior to the event, from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 9-10. Like last year, registration will be at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 772 Black Oak Drive, next to St. Mary's School.
An early-bird sale will take place from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. Admission that day will cost $5. Kids 12 and younger get in free. Johnson says free-admission coupons for Friday are available at Black Bird Shop Shopping Center, 1810 W. Main St., and at Rogue Ski Shop, 309 E. Jackson St., in Medford.
On Nov. 12, the sale will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with free admission. A closeout sale will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 13, with free admission and all merchandise on the floor discounted up to 50 percent.
MSEF is a nonprofit foundation that works to make competitive skiing available for high-school students in Jackson and Josephine counties. The annual swap event is the foundation's largest fundraiser of the year.
Coaches and team members will be available throughout the weekend to answer questions from student athletes interested in joining the program.