here’s a great reason to get out and experience autumn in the Vail Valley: The Pope loves it.
A legend in Minturn, known for his skills as a bicycle mechanic, Jim “The Pope” Popeck has been riding bikes in the Vail Valley for decades and has a catalogue of fond fall memories.
He calls the season “so much more enjoyable” for several reasons.
“There’s less people around and the weather’s a little cooler, so you can go out in the middle of the day and enjoy the crisp air and, of course, being in the fall, foliage is beautiful,” he said. “You just gotta be careful on a bike because the leaves can get slippery on the road.”
But local residents like The Pope are looking forward to more than just cycling this offseason. Here’s why:
‘The season cap’
This week, the Vail Valley assumes its rightful claim as one of the premier fly-fishing destinations on the planet when the America Cup International Fly Fishing Tournament hits the valley, here through Sunday. It attracts the best fly fishermen from around the world, and during the past few years, has also become the most competitive youth fly-fishing tournament in the country, according to organizers. The event is now serving as a pre-cursor to the World Fly Fishing Championships, which will hit the Vail Valley in 2016. The Youth World Fly Fishing Championships will be here in 2015.
On Sunday, trail runners unite for the finale of the Vail Recreation District’s La Sportiva Trail Running Series. The EverGold is known for just that — it’s a course of golden leaves leading athletes through the five or 11 kilometers of valleys and mountain vistas. The start and finish of the foot race will be held at the Vail Golf Club beginning at 10 a.m.
“The cool thing about the EverGold is it’s the season cap, so we have our season awards in addition to the race awards,” said Steve Croucher, sports coordinator and trail running race director for the Vail Recreation District. “The race itself is pretty amazing because it’s at the point in the season when all the leaves are changing — it’s probably the prettiest race.”
Visit www.vailrec.com/sports/trail-running-racing for more information and to sign up.
Also Sunday, catch “50 Shades! The Musical” a “hilarious parody of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ phenomenon,” according to promoters. The show is at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek at 8 p.m. Tickets are $65 and available at www.vilarpac.com, by calling 888-920-2787 or in person at the VPAC Box Office.
Then, right away, on Monday, begins the Colorado Grand, an annual charity tour for pre-1960 sports and race cars. The event tours around the state the whole week, stopping in Eagle County and the Vail Valley along the way. Find out more at www.co1000.com.
Also that week, from Thursday to Saturday, Sept. 21, the Vail Living Well Summit returns. The keynote events with sports icon Joe Montana and media figure Natalie Morales is on Friday evening and will be just one highlight of this attention-worthy weekend. The summit is a two-and-a-half day event, bringing together thought leaders, athletes, top doctors, researchers, nutritionists, health-conscious individuals and influential pioneers to the heart of the mountains. Learn more at www.vaillivingwell.org.
On Thursday, adults can join in on a “Wild Wine Tasting” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at e|town in The Riverwalk at Edwards. Tickets can be purchased at Riverwalk Wine and Spirits in Edwards.
On Sept. 22, Beaver Creek hosts the fifth annual Hike, Wine and Dine, a unique event that allows you to burn calories as you consume them, all while enjoying the trails at Beaver Creek and the fall colors that carpet them.
“We choose to have the event in late September to capture the peak of the aspen leaf season,” said Sue Franciose, the chair of the event.
It’s a four-mile hike, with a number of stops along the way. At each stop, a booth is set up where some of the valley’s best chefs will be offering a gourmet delight to help you stave off fatigue. And it all benefits Jack’s Place, a cancer-caring home here in the Vail Valley, so you can take comfort in the fact that you’re expending energy for a good cause. Registration is $100, teens are $50 and kids are free. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain.
Splendid end for September
So you aren’t left without a moment of gourmet food, fall segues right into Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week, which runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6. We all know fall is the perfect time for every foodie’s “Oktoberfeast,” and Vail and Beaver Creek are bringing their best to the table for more than a week of dining delectability.
“When you look around at the number of fabulous restaurant offerings in the two villages, it is clear that an event like this is long overdue,” said Matt Morgan, managing partner of Sweet Basil.
It’s true — the inaugural Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week will be held Sept. 27 through Oct. 6, with participating restaurants from two neighboring mountain resorts. The culinary celebration will be an elevated experience, showcasing the incredible and diverse culinary offerings available throughout the Vail and Beaver Creek villages.
The 10-day event will feature a wide variety of prix fixe menus and specials, ranging from drink deals to coursed meal offerings, all set at $20.13. More than 50 restaurants and more then 10 lodges are participating, so there will be plenty of reasons for diners to make their visit to the valley an extended stay.
Restaurants will be following their standard reservations policies, so plan accordingly. Also, on Oct. 3, 10 percent of all participating restaurant sales will be donated to the Vail Valley Foundation, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to leadership in athletic, cultural, educational and community-based endeavors.
For more information on Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week, or to view a progressive list of $20.13 restaurant specials and event lodging offers, visit www.diningataltitude.com.
Within restaurant week will be another opportunity to burn calories with the Vail UltraRoc 100K, a trail race and distance-running championship on Sept. 28.
And also in the final weekend of September is the Man of the Cliff, Sept. 28 and 29.
“Gentlemen, start your beards” is the slogan. You might want to sharpen your axe for the wood-cutting competition, too, in this all-things-mountain-man festival. (Lumberjanes are welcome, too). Just make sure you wear flannel for this fifth annual event. It’s a weekend event comprised of burly activities (think axes and chain saws), which are modified to fit all strength and ability levels. All of the proceeds raised benefit First Descents, a Denver-based charity that brings young adult cancer survivors and fighters to experience the beauty and strength of the great outdoors. For more information on the event and to enter your beard and brawn, visit www.manofthecliff.com.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the county at 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott, Wild West Day will be under way on Sept. 29. The annual fundraiser benefits Eagle County School District’s nine elementary schools. Now in its 23rd year, Wild West Day offers live stage entertainment, craft booths, carnival games and wagon rides, as well as a raffle and a silent auction and a three-or-one mile fun run. Activities run into the afternoon, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Families can also take a 10-minute scenic helicopter ride with Copters for a Cause. Adults rides are $65 and kids ride for $30 — all proceeds benefit Wild West Day. For more information on Wild West Day and to see the full schedule, visit www.wildwestday.org.
Moving into October, the valley’s first ever yoga festival will go down the weekend of Oct. 4-6. Experience the best of local, regional and national yoga teachers, along with more than 300 participants. When you’re not on your mat or sitting in meditation, take some time to explore the local hiking and biking trails in Eagle, as well as entertainment and vendors. The festival venues are set up to be only five minutes away from area hotels, so you can walk to and from yoga classes, outdoor stages, the expo, local coffee shops and restaurants. Proceeds from the event will benefit Girl PowHER yoga, an Eagle County girls’ empowerment program. For more information on YogaFest and to purchase tickets, visit www.eagle yogafest.com.
After the leaves fall and before the snow flurries fly comes the time for finding and carving the perfect pumpkin. On Oct. 12, Brush Creek Park in Eagle will be transformed into a pumpkin patch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spend time and sip cider with friends and family in the crisp Colorado air — activities include visiting the haunted barn, carving pumpkins, playing festive fall games and taking pony rides — all amidst the area of a former working ranch. Kids will love the bouncy castles, and adults can check out a silent auction benefiting the Sunshine Mountain Preschool.
Entry is free, so head to Eagle to embrace the season with food, games and fun for the whole family. Call 970-328-2172 for more information.
And finally, as you round out the fall season, we know you’re looking forward to two major things: skiing and Halloween. A couple events you won’t want to miss are the Vail Valley Theatre Company’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” Oct. 18-19, 25-26 at Homestake Peak School, and the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s annual Ski Swap, which takes place Oct. 25-26 at Dobson Ice Arena.