Volunteers at the 28th annual Hogadon Tune-Up grab tools to help clear the slopes. (Tommy Culkin, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — A sure sign that autumn is upon us and winter is not far behind is the annual Hogadon Tune-Up, where volunteers help to prepare the slopes for the coming ski season.

Now in its 28th year, the tune-up has become something of a Casper Mountain tradition over the decades.

“After the first year, I wasn’t sure if there’d even be a year two,” event founder and organizer Marty Brammer said. “Seeing how it’s grown over the years, it’s amazing.”

Brammer said that the first few years only saw a handful of participants take part, though dozens now lend their services.

The work that volunteers do to help ready the ski basin is varied, and depends on what needs tackling in a given year, Brammer said.

“Initially, this was just going to be a trash pick-up day, but it blossomed into doing all types of work,” he said. “We’ve cleaned the lodge, washed windows, painted ski racks, chopped wood — all sorts of things.”

This year, the focus for volunteers was cutting down saplings that have sprouted up on the slopes.

“There are places that we can’t get to with the mowers, that individuals are able to reach without any problem,” Hogadon superintendent Chris Smith said. “This is work that would take weeks to do without this extra help, but we’re able to get it done in one day.”

For their efforts, volunteers were able to enjoy catered lunch after finishing their work, with door prizes also donated from several local businesses.

“It’s a great way to kick things off with the community,” Smith said.

Smith said that the slopes typically open in December, though an early snowfall could see them open earlier, around Thanksgiving.