EAGLE COUNTY – If you parked in Lionshead, then you were lucky enough to choose the only structure in the valley that didn’t fill up Saturday.
At various stages throughout the day, the Vail Village parking structure and both the Beaver Creek Ford Hall and Villa Montane structures all reached capacity as crowds spread out across the valley.
A multicultural nexus, the Vail Valley’s event focus for the busy Labor Day weekend is mainly cultural, as opposed to the athletic and outdoor attractions that pack weekends full at other times throughout summer.
International elements pervaded much of Saturday’s activities, with event goers able to listen to artists like the French-Dominican Cyrille Aimee and Brazilian Diego Figueirdo in Lionshead, or Trachtenkapelle, in for this weekend only from Lech-Zurs, Austria, at Beaver Creek.
In other areas, a street-fair atmosphere overtook towns, as Vail hosted the annual Gourmet on Gore celebration of food and Edwards and Minturn hosted their weekend farmer’s markets.
“The valley does a great job of spreading the events out over Labor Day weekend, so we weren’t as crowded,” said Michelle Metteer with the Minturn Market. “But the general feedback is the crowd that was here was great, a lot of out-of towners and a good-spending crowd.”
Japan, France and Sponge Bob
For some, the weekend’s unique attractions weren’t necessarily international. The Wong family, of Denver, found themselves momentarily captivated by the one-of-a-kind Sponge Bob Toyota in the Children’s Fountain area near Vail Village’s many Gourmet on Gore booths.
“They don’t come out until December and we wanted to see the third row, I heard it’s supposed to be one of the biggest,” Kathy Wong said of the 2014 Highlander on display.
Meanwhile, in Lionshead, artists like Japanese organ sensation Akiko Tsuruga were keeping a packed tent at Arrabelle Square captivated as part of the annual Vail Jazz Party.
“When I check in the hotel, right when I get here I feel a good vibe,” said Tsuruga after the show. “Wonderful crowd, wonderful people, as soon as I start to play, everybody shows a smile and that makes me feel great and makes us play better.”
The event’s headliner, Cyrille Aimee, echoed the statement.
“I like that it’s a party, and everybody gets to play with people they’ve never played before,” she said. “[Sunday] I get to play with John Clayton, and I’m really excited about that.”
Clayton won a Grammy in 2007 for Instrumental Arrangement.
Munich vs. eBay
Caught up in the international atmosphere, Denver resident Alex Schluppenbaum rushed the stage Saturday at Beaver Creek, dropped to one knee and proposed – in German – to his girlfriend, Jessica Walter.
The two were clad in full Bavarian attire.
“I’d like to lie and say we got it in Munich, and not on eBay,” he said.
Schluppenbaum’s timing was impeccable, as a crowd of hundreds had gathered to see the getups on display in the annual Bavarian costume contest.
As it turns out, an outfit that really was purchased in Munich, that of former Munich resident Ron Sills, took the top honors in the men’s division. Sills was complimented by his enormous St. Bernard, Bud, who had an authentic barrel cask around his neck.
A longtime valley resident, Sills was elated with the victory.
“I said I came here to win this year,” he said.
Oktoberfest wraps up today in no less competitive fashion with an alpenhorn-blowing contest at 4 p.m. The Vail Jazz Party and Gourmet on Gore continue today and tomorrow.
Staff Writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 or firstname.lastname@example.org