EverBank America’s Winter Opening ushers in ski season at Beaver Creek, Dec. 2-4 | VailDaily.com

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EverBank America’s Winter Opening ushers in ski season at Beaver Creek, Dec. 2-4

EverBank America’s Winter Opening schedule

Schedule is subject to change. Events are free unless otherwise noted.

Friday, Dec. 2

Noon to 2 p.m. — Free ice-skating, Beaver Creek ice rink

3 to 6 p.m. — Birds of Prey Way: Pumphouse Bar, live music from WinterWonderGrass All-Stars, kettle curling, expo area, on-site giveaways and more

3 to 6 p.m. — Raptor Education Foundation birds of prey educational display

3 p.m. — Beers of Prey, Vilar Performing Arts Center, $35 (or Bonfire Dub and Friends combo pack, $40)

3:30 p.m. — Beers of Prey Special Tasting Session, May Gallery, Vilar Performing Arts Center, $10

4:30 p.m. — Beers of Prey Special Tasting Session, May Gallery, Vilar Performing Arts Center, $10

5:30 p.m. — Beers of Prey Special Tasting Session, May Gallery, Vilar Performing Arts Center, $10

6 p.m. — Fireworks in Beaver Creek Village

8 p.m. — Bonfire Dub and Friends concert, Vilar Performing Arts Center, $10

Saturday, Dec. 3

Noon to 6 p.m. — Birds of Prey Way: Pumphouse Bar, live music from Town Cavalry & the Williams Brothers Band, kettle curling, expo area, on-site giveaways and more

Noon to 6 p.m. — Raptor Education Foundation birds of prey educational display

7:30 p.m. — Film: “The Fourth Phase,” Red Bull Media House, Vilar Performing Arts Center, $10

Sunday, Dec. 4

9 a.m. to noon — Raptor Education Foundation birds of prey educational display

there are many signs that signal the start of winter: The first flakes of snow dusting the ground, the plethora of puffy jackets that are donned, the scramble for first chair on Opening Day — and a weekend in Beaver Creek dedicated to music-loving, craft beer-drinking, fireworks-watching families and friends.

The second annual EverBank America’s Winter Opening continues through Saturday with live music, a craft beer tasting, a movie screening and more in Beaver Creek. While the FIS Audi Birds of Prey World Cup downhill, super-G and giant slalom races, scheduled for today through Sunday have been canceled due to unfavorable conditions, the spirit and celebratory nature of the weekend will continue.

“Despite the races being canceled, the weather has come, so winter’s here,” said Tom Boyd, director of public relations and communications for the Vail Valley Foundation. “It’s dumping, and more storms are coming. What America’s Winter Opening is really about is celebrating the winter season; we’re locked and loaded and ready to do that.”

Music in the mountains

Mountain festivals have become accustomed to having a soundtrack; the strains remain long after the bands have departed. America’s Winter Opening is no exception, with live music at Birds of Prey Way in Beaver Creek Village during the day.

Today, Colorado-based folk, rock and reggae band Bonfire Dub is celebrating the release of its new album “Gypsy Roots” with a show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. This show is the central performance of a three-day tour that starts in Fort Collins and ends in Steamboat Springs, and Bridget Law (Elephant Revival), Andy Thorn (Leftover Salmon) and Tyler Grant (Grant Farm) will join the band on stage for the Beaver Creek concert.

“We have played VPAC before; it’s our favorite place to play in the country,” said Scott Stoughton, lead guitar and vocalist for Bonfire Dub. “It’s the most beautiful theater in the States. It’s incredible. Places like that, rooms like that, it causes you to bring your A game. It’s like you’re in the major leagues and want to deliver the best show you can and pay respect to the building and the performers who have played there before you.”

“Gypsy Roots” is the first release in five years for the band. Stoughton said he’s inspired to write from experiences traveling around the world and domestically, wanting to communicate and have conversations.

“A lot of different tracks speak about coming with an open heart, coming with a desire to walk with you and talk with you without judgment,” Stoughton said. “If we can maintain that type of mentality, it’s important.”

The album showcases the ever-evolving sound of the band, from reggae and rock to a bit of bluegrass and acoustic-laced and electric steel-driven folk. Stoughton said the band is not trying to be the biggest or the best but is trying to deliver the message that they think is authentic to them.

“It’s a great challenge and a beautiful opportunity that we’re most proud to partake of,” Stoughton said.

Ticket holders for today’s Bonfire Dub show also will have an opportunity to win passes to the sold-out WinterWonderGrass Festival in Steamboat Springs.

In addition to the two main musical acts, visitors to America’s Winter Opening can also find free live music at Birds of Prey Way in Beaver Creek Village today and Saturday. The WinterWonderGrass All Stars will play today; Town Cavalry and the Williams Brothers will play Saturday.

Better with beer

New this year, America’s Winter Opening includes Beers of Prey, a three-hour tasting of seasonal specials from 10 breweries, including Bonfire Brewing in Eagle and Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. in Edwards, as well as national outfits such as Firestone Walker and Lagunitas. The $30 tasting ticket includes samples from all 10 breweries, plus several food and beer pairings. For those who want to tie in beer and music, a $40 ticket allows access to the beer tasting, plus entrance to the Bonfire Dub concert today.

The sampling is not limited to the 40-plus styles the breweries will be pouring as part of the tasting. During three hour-long special tasting sessions in the May Gallery, brewers will be pouring limited-edition beers such as Ska Brewery’s Dementia and American Pale Ale Euphoria, which has been aged in Peach Street Distillers Bourbon Barrels, and Avery’s Tweak. This beer, which is Avery’s Mephistopheles plus coffee aged in bourbon barrels for four months, weighs in at 17.1 percent alcohol by volume — it’s a big, big beer. The sessions also include some “get it while you can” beers, such as Firestone Walker’s Wookey Jack, a black rye IPA that is being retired at the end of the year.

Tickets are $10 per session (featured breweries and the beers being poured at each session are listed so attendees can make an informed decision) or $30 for entrance to all three sessions. Space is limited; tickets are required and are expected to sell out quickly.

“Beers of Prey will be a good time for any beer lover,” Boyd said. “But the special tastings are meant to be a more exclusive experience.”

Though only in its second year, America’s Winter Opening has the potential to continue to grow, Boyd said. Eventually, he says, it might become an event on the scale of the GoPro Mountain Games in the summer.

“It has a lot of momentum,” Boyd said. “It’s wise to start small and make our way, but the vision is to continue to grow this event and add things like Beers of Prey, more concerts and add more activities as the years go by.”

With three days of music, craft beer, movie screenings and camaraderie, it’s a fitting kickoff to the winter season. Put on your puffy and join the crowds in welcoming winter to Beaver Creek.