More to Mt. Snow than snow

MOUNT SNOW, Vt.-- Key chains with thermostats lanyards with velcro, lip balm, gum, stickers, food, soda -- and the best part is that it is all free. Who says all there is to Mount Snow is snow?

The Interactive Village is providing many different kinds of activities for the large crowds at the 2000 Winter X Games. Everyone from AT&T to Wrigley's Winterfresh have set up tents in the village trying to entice spectators to look at their products. Even the U.S. Marines are here, looking for a few good men and women.

Taco Bell, one of the sponsors of the Winter X Games, isn't giving away any chalupas, but you can take a picture with the Taco Bell Dog. Mary Hodge works for FCB (Foote, Cone and Bellding) who does advertising and marketing for Taco Bell and she says the turnout has been great.

"These are the people who eat Taco Bell late at night. They are fun, young, active and extreme," she said. "Plus people love getting their picture taken with the Taco Bell Dog."

One of the people who couldn't resist a picture with Gidget, the dog's name, was Lisa Holten from Little Falls, N.Y., who came to watch Snocross, but left with a few extras.

"I think the dog is cute," she said.

One company that didn't need any help attracting crowds to its tent was Ore Ida Bagel Bites. Crowds were standing four- and five-deep to get a free sample of the bite-size pizza-bagels.

Peggy Collins, a consultant with Ferrara & Company, says crowds are always forming.

"We've served around 7,000 Bagel Bites in the last two days," she said. "It's been a great experience. We can't seem to make them fast enough and we're expecting people tomorrow."

Kevin Cofill from Glastonbury, Ct., was one of the thousands served. He admitted the Mountain Dew tent was his favorite, but he was familiar with the Ore Ida product.

"I think my mom bought them one time," he said.

Not even the cold weather could stop some people from sampling free goods.

The National Dairy Council and the Milk Processors Education Program who sponsor the "Got Milk" campaign, also were present. People lined up outside the tent to sample milkshakes and some posed for a photo wearing the famous milk mustache.

"People still want milkshakes despite the cold weather," said Jerry Gleason of Milk Mustache Tour Company.

Volkswagen is also loving the exposure from the large crowds.

"The crowds are great and we are getting a great response. These are our people," said one of the product specialists working at the tent.

Besides giving away stickers and other items, Volkswagen sponsored a game for the crowd to play where they could win watches and blankets by finding someone who has their matching number.

Lindsay Smith from Fairfield, Ct., comes to Mount Snow almost every week and she and her friends agree that it is more exciting with the throngs of people.

"It's really fun and very exciting," she said. "It's pretty well organized, too."

As for her favorite tent, "Definitely Bagel Bites. You can't beat free food."