AVON — For the past five years, as the nights turn cold and leaves start to change, men and women have donned their flannel and made a pilgrimage to the tiny town of Red Cliff, population 263, for a weekend of uniquely Colorado fun. Much like the beards of its contestants, Man of the Cliff started as a seemingly laughable idea but has surprisingly and truly grown into its own. The competition, which began in a small dirt parking lot at Mango’s Mountain Grill — the only restaurant in the quaint mountain town — is moving to Nottingham Park in Avon this fall.
While there is plenty of nostalgia associated with the town of Red Cliff and the setting, organizers knew that a change was needed in order for the event to remain viable. Fortunately, the town of Avon was excited to team up with Man of the Cliff to bring the small-town event to a bigger arena and help the organizers fulfill their vision of raising money for a great cause.
“We love the beautiful setting that will give us room to expand for years to come, the ease of access for those up and down the valley, the abundance of restaurants and lodging options nearby, the potential to incorporate water events into future competitions and the excitement and support expressed by the Town Council and town staff,” said event organizer Amanda Williams.
ROOM TO GROW
It was a difficult decision for Williams and her husband, Adam — the husband and wife team that organizes the event — but they said it was the right move to achieve the goals and maximize the potential of the event.
“We dearly love Red Cliff and always will, but when we started the competition we identified three goals: organize a safe, fun and unique event, raise money for charity and bring people to Red Cliff,” Williams said.
“Unfortunately, as the event has grown, expenses have increased, while opportunities for generating revenue through registration and sponsorships have remained stagnant, to the point where something that was generating over $10,000 in yearly donations had gotten to the point where it was generating only a fraction of that,” Adam Williams said. “We had to look at the longterm goals of the event and decided that relocating the event made the most sense for us to continue to grow the event and to stay true to our original goals.”
All proceeds from the two-day event go to First Descents, which provides outdoor adventures to those battling cancer.
“The town of Avon is thrilled to partner with the Man of The Cliff event, not just to bring another great event to our town, but also to support a charity that started right here in our backyard,” said Avon Councilman Jake Wolf. “There is something powerful about what Amanda and Adam have initiated and to be able to see the event grow with proceeds doing such good in the world, is something we all can get behind and find important in our busy lives.”
Man of the Cliff is difficult to categorize, but has been described as an amateur lumberjack meets highland games meets strongman competition which caters more to the weekend lumberjack than it does to those in the profession. While events like ax throwing, archery, keg tossing, speed chopping, spear throwing, caber tossing and sledge hammer throwing, sound like far more than the average Joe can handle, most have been modified to allow men and women of all sizes to compete and focus more on finesse than strength.
“We have had ladies place in the top five overall that are literally half the size of some of the male competitors that don’t make it in the top twenty,” Amanda Williams said. “We really want this to give men and women of all ages and skill levels a chance to try something they otherwise may have never considered doing, and the results are surprising and people are amazed at how much fun these things that they were scared to try actually are to do.”
While that sounds like enough fun to get people to travel across state lines for the weekend, the addition of great food and great beer make it a not-to-miss weekend. Bonfire Brewing, of Eagle, the presenting sponsor from 2013, will be back at it again this year bringing out crowd favorites such as the Wood Splitter Pilsner and Bear Punch Porter.
SUPPORTING FIRST DESCENTS
Though it may seem like all fun and games, the roots of the event run deeper as 100 percent of the proceeds raised are donated to Colorado-based charity First Descents which provides outdoor adventures for 19- to 38-year-olds with or recovering from cancer. To date the event has netted over $35,000 in donations — or the equivalent of sending 35 young adults on a life-changing week-long adventure.
Those who have attended previously can expect more of the same humor, relaxed atmosphere and fun loving crowd from years past.
“Newcomers will be surprised at how addictive and therapeutic ax throwing feels,” the organizers wrote in a release. “All who attend can expect an epic weekend of beer, brawn and laughter in an amazing new setting.”
Man of Cliff will be held in Nottingham Park on Sept. 27 and 28.
“We really want this to give men and women of all ages and skill levels a chance to try something they otherwise may have never considered doing, and the results are surprising and people are amazed at how much fun these things that they were scared to try actually are to do.”