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‘Gypsum Days’: Local author celebrates newest release at the Bookworm

Kathy Heicher
Courtesy photo

Most think that the Eagle Valley got its start with the opening of Vail Mountain, and some even call it the Vail Valley. Author and President of the Eagle Historical Society, Kathy Heicher, reveals in her collection of local history books that our area has a rich history well before the ski mountains opened.

Come to the Bookworm to celebrate the newest history release, Gypsum Days, from local author, Kathy Heicher, that reveals how the farming community of Gypsum became the mountain town it is today. As an awarded local history authority, Heicher will deliver a presentation on the history of Gypsum, which will be followed by a Q&A session and a book signing.

Heicher has been a journalist in the Eagle Valley for over 40 years, which has inspired much of her research. “When I got my first newspaper job in Eagle County in 1972, there were many life-long residents who would stop by the office and share the county’s history,” Heicher recalls. “The stories were always fun; the rowdy Red Cliff mining camp, the war between the sheep and cattle ranchers, the women’s organizations. As a writer, I have always been aware of the need to get some of these stories written down before they disappear forever.”

Now as the President of the Eagle Historical Society, Heicher gets many opportunities to dive into our valley’s history, and more specifically Gypsum’s. “I am always researching in the archives, reading historic manuscripts, studying old photographs, and listening to people share memories of days past,” Heicher recalls. “Often, I start researching one topic and another interesting subject will pop up. Or maybe an artifact in the museum will catch my eye.”

Cover of “Gypsum Days” by Kathy Heicher
Courtesy image

One topic that intrigued Heicher was the story of the wily pioneer Ed Slaughter. “Ed operated on both sides of the law. He often flaunted the rules if doing so would benefit him,” Heicher states. “He was illiterate yet extremely smart, and had influential friends like sheriffs, governors, and senators. He was obnoxious enough to make some people dislike him, but many also loved him because he was such a maverick, and cared about the community enough to work hard to make it better.”

Heicher believes that people can be inspired like Ed was to work on improving their community if they learn more about its history. “History helps people to discover their place within their families, community, state and country,” Heicher says. “Knowing local history helps with understanding of how the communities of today took shape, which gives people a sense of belonging and of responsibility.”

Come listen to Heicher discuss Gypsum Days and learn more about the rich history of our area, and how it became the bustling mountain valley it is today. “Eagle County’s history didn’t start with the development of the Vail ski resort. Rather, it is a rich story that has been developing since the time the Utes occupied these mountains,” Hiecher states. “This county was built through the efforts of stalwart pioneers who weren’t afraid to follow their dreams. Maybe that is a good lesson for all of us.”

If you go…

What: Gypsum Days with Kathy Heicher

When: Tuesday May 31st, 6:00 PM

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., unit C101 Edwards, CO 81632

Cost: $10, purchase online or at the Bookworm of Edwards

More Info: Call 970-926-READ or visit BookwormofEdwards.com



Mirabelle Restaurant celebrates 40 years

The Mirabelle Restaurant is located in a historic farmhouse built by homesteaders in 1898.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The Mirabelle Restaurant in Beaver Creek is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, 23 of which have been under the leadership of head chef Daniel Joly.

The Mirabelle Restaurant is located at the base of Beaver Creek, just before the gated entrance, though at first glance it is hard to tell that it’s a commercial restaurant. The charming farmhouse is a historic landmark built by homesteaders in 1898, and used to be an active ranch when Avon was home to cabbage and potato farmers.

“If I start to dig here for planting, I’ll find a whole piece of (a) tool from a farmer,” Joly said. “This little acreage here, it’s got a lot of history.”

The history of the property is what drew Chef Joly to it in the early 1990s. He and his wife had recently immigrated to the United States from Belgium to work at a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, but were steered onto a different course after a hurricane flooded the restaurant. Joli followed a lead out to the Vail Valley in 1991, where he began working under the original owner of the Mirabelle, a Frenchman and local resident Luke Mayo.

When given the opportunity to buy both the property and the restaurant in 1999, Joly knew that this was the perfect place for the style of food and atmosphere that he had always envisioned for his own establishment.

Head Chef Daniel Joly plates a dish in the Mirabelle kitchen.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

“The difference with Mirabelle is that it just has a soul,” Joly said. “It’s an old building, people live here, it’s part of what Vail was before it became a famous resort, and I think a lot of people connect with that.”

After the purchase, Joly and his family moved onto the property, and still live on the second floor of the ranch house. He said that he intends to make every patron feel like they are a guest in his home, which in many respects, they are.

“It makes people rethink fancy restaurants, because I think we’re very humble, very homey,” Joly said. “When you go into a restaurant you don’t want to be like, ‘Which silverware do I need to use?’ We want to make people comfortable, it’s very important.”

Emphasis on ingredients

In keeping with the background of its two owners, the food at the Mirabelle typically has French and Belgian influences, though Joly said that the driving force of the menu is the quality of ingredients.

Being the owner of the property allows Joly to take advantage of investments and resources that are not available to most restaurants in the valley. In 2017, he installed a greenhouse just behind the restaurant where staff can grow and pick fresh herbs and vegetables to use in their dishes. Much of the produce used in the dishes is grown on-site, and Joly makes it a priority to use seasonal ingredients.

Chef Daniel Joly trims fresh herbs in the restaurant's greenhouse.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

“I’m not a magician, all I am is a chef,” Joly said. “If I get something very good, it’s very easy to make it taste good. I cannot make a can of beans taste like caviar. Our job is to represent the farmer and be specific about buying the very best we can, buying organic and all that good stuff, and giving that to the customer.”

The chef’s respect for the quality of ingredients comes across in his dishes, where he said he tries to elevate the experience of a central ingredient in each plate, rather than overcrowding the palette. Meats, fish and veggies are heightened by artfully crafted sauces and garnishes, which swirl together to create an entirely new flavor profile while keeping each element clearly identifiable.

The food and atmosphere have earned Mirabelle countless five star reviews from satisfied customers, as well as many of the industry’s most prestigious accolades. Most recently, the restaurant received a four-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide for 2022.

While the reviews and accolades are clear indicators of success, Joly doesn’t take too much time to bask in the glory. Instead, he focuses on maintaining that same level of quality for every person who comes through the Mirabelle’s doors.

​​”We’re only as good as our next meal, that’s what I tell my guys,” Joly said. “If today we serve two people and we do great, we did something good. If tomorrow we serve 100 people and we do great, we did something good. That’s my philosophy.”

Meats, fish and veggies are heightened by artfully crafted sauces and garnishes, which swirl together to create an entirely new flavor profile while keeping each element clearly identifiable.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Family ties

The Mirabelle is a family business, and that sense of community extends to its staff as well. Walking into the restaurant at the end of the day, it’s normal to find Joly sharing laughs with his staff members over a glass of wine in the cozy common area. Some staff members, such as the bartender of 32 years, have been at the restaurant for as long or longer than Joly himself, and are equally committed to maintaining its culture and quality.

“It’s such a hard time finding good staff now, and we are so lucky,” Joly said. “So many people have been with us for years, and they stay with us, and that to me is really a sign of success.”

With all of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the valley over the past 40 years, Joly knows that the land he owns has become a goldmine, but he has no intentions to sell. He knows that he is preserving an important piece of history, and wants to maintain the authentic experience of a family-owned company amid the growing presence of international brands and big money in the valley.

The Mirabelle farmhouse maintains a warm, homey atmosphere.
Chris Dillmann/Courtesy Photo

“I think it’s really cool to have something before when it was a farm town, to have something go from that generation to the generation we are in today. I think as a human, you get touched by that,” Joly said. “If I can create something really cool for the community and still do a good living, I think in the long run that would be very appreciated.”

Next generation

When Joly began working at the Mirabelle, he was 26 years old, a recent immigrant with no money and very few connections in the states. Now 30 years later, he is grateful for all of the opportunities that presented themselves, and proud of how far the restaurant has come.

“Some people say, ‘Oh you lived the American Dream, everything happened right for you,’ and I think in some respect I agree with that, but in the same respect I worked my butt off all the time and I just never stopped,” Joly said. “It’s been a fun ride, and we’ve been very blessed with everything that has happened to us, being an immigrant in this country and doing what we do.”

Looking ahead, Joly said he hopes to become a mentor, and bring in the next generation to help build the next 40 years of Mirabelle’s future.

“I want to put myself in a position where I can maybe help somebody younger, like I was helped,” Joly said. “I don’t want to be 90 years old and be the old chef cramping my kitchen. I want to try to elevate the best we can and see which way we can make it even better. That’s what keeps you moving in this industry, is always questioning yourself and saying, ‘What did I do well? What can I do better?’”

Daycations: Enjoying the day in historic Minturn

Editor’s Note: “Daycations” is a series we are doing through the month of May showcasing what our local towns have to offer in the shoulder season.

Minturn has a long history dating back to the 1800s and was incorporated in 1904.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Minturn is a quaint, quiet little town nestled between the world-class resorts, Vail and Beaver Creek. Minturn was established in the late 1800s and was incorporated in 1904. The Rio Grande railroad line spanned the state of Colorado and Minturn was a key stop. The railroad and mining industries were the main sources of jobs in Minturn.

Today, the industry is more tourism based, but hints of the past are there. Look for it in the historical architecture and nods to the past on Main Street and beyond. Minturn is now home to many restaurants and shops and gives you great access to outdoor recreation. Come along as we explore Minturn in today’s edition of our Daycation series.

Tea it up

To get the day started, I stopped into Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company and Roastery Café. VMCT was started by locals Chris Chantler and Craig Arseneau when they moved here and started The Daily Grind Coffee Company in 1989. Today, they can be found at the Roastery Café, chatting it up with customers or hosting a tea tasting event, like what Chris Chantler was doing the morning I was there.

I made a departure from my normal chai latte order and decided to do a tea flight and sample the goods VMCT is known for. One of the managers, Chris Allen, helped me pick out three teas from their vast selection. Soon, I had a tray with Silver Needle Jasmine, which is a White Tea, a Fancy Formosa Bai Hao, an Oolong tea and Egyptian Chamomile an herbal infusion. Allen sent me off with the tray and the timer and I grabbed a seat and waited for my teas to steep.

In Swenson’s tea flight at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company, she chose Silver Needle Jasmine, a Fancy Formosa Bai Hao and Egyptian chamomile.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

VMCT is just north of the town of Minturn on Highway 24 and the café offers a great place to do a little work on your laptop or meet friends with plenty of seating and a great vibe. It’s fun to see all the bags of beans through the glass and all the inner workings of the roastery. VMCT supplies coffee and tea to retailers throughout Colorado and its neighboring states, so it is more than a coffee shop. If you do love coffee, they can make it a few ways for you. Besides daily drip, ask about the Chemex, V-60 and of course the French Press.

Hiking near Minturn

After my tea flight, time to go across Highway 24 and start my hike up Grouse Creek Loop. This is almost a 5.5 mile hike that has an elevation gain of just under 1,200 vertical feet. Don’t forget to bring water, and hiking poles are nice to have for any creek crossings this time of year. Take your time and enjoy how green it is this spring with the recent precipitation. When you do the hike in a clockwise direction and are descending through a few aspen groves near the end of the loop, keep an eye over your right shoulder to see some intricate aspen carvings. You might have a mermaid peeking over you. Legend has it that this carving and many others were created by sheep headers who made their way through the area long ago.

Tree carvings found on the Grouse Creek Loop trail.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Now that the hike is over, time to recharge with a late breakfast at Sunrise Minturn, which serves breakfast and lunch at its location on Main Street. I try the breakfast sandwich and you can order online if you want to save some time and take it to go. I walk around the corner and to the picnic tables that are along the Eagle River, which is on the rise right now. Just upriver from where I’m eating sits Minturn Anglers, so if you love flyfishing or want to get into the sport, this shop doesn’t get any closer to the water.

Shopping adventures

Next up: shopping. Minturn has a fun collection of boutiques and antiques, like the ones you’ll find in Antique Accents on Main Street near Sunrise Minturn. Step back in time and pick out some jewelry, old west artifacts, artwork and home décor. Speaking of home décor, more of that can be found across the street at Gemini Gardens. Here you’ll find all sorts of fun accents and gifts for others or yourself.

I saved my favorite shop for last because I knew I’d be spending a lot of time here. Holy Toledo is on the corner of Main Street and Toledo and it is an old church that’s been converted into a fun consignment shop. The Vail Valley has a lot of fabulous closets and some of those clothes end up here. Find name brands like Prada, Manolo Blahnik, Louis Vitton, Dior, Gucci, Missoni and more.

This is what I call adventure shopping because you never know what you are going to find, so going in with a strategy is good. If you are in the market for something in particular, like a dress for a special occasion, ask either the owner, Heather Schultz or another Heather who is there most days, Heather Hotard, to point you to the right rack. If you don’t have something special in mind, take a lap around the store, then take another and then start getting a stack of clothes together to try on and outfits will start to form. They have clothing, shoes and all sorts of accessories that appeal to all ages.

Swenson tries on a Missoni dress at Holy Toledo in Minturn.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Minturn Bike Park

After leaving with my purchases, it’s time to head to the Minturn Bike Park. I’m not going to exert myself too much because I already did the hike in the morning, but I haven’t been here before so I packed my bike so I could check it out. The Minturn Bike Park is near the Little Beach Park and Amphitheater, just keep driving past and the signs will tell you where to go.

I don’t have a BMX bike, but a mountain bike will do. The trail difficulty is marked like ski trails with green being the easiest, with gentle corners and rolling terrain. The terrain marked in blue is for intermediate riders and has bigger rollers, table-tops and more technical features and jumps. Experts can test their skills on the trails marked black, which brings higher jumps, tall drops and requires faster speeds. I take a few laps on the easy runs and can’t wipe the smile from my face. Try the Minturn Bike Park, it’s super fun! I felt like I’d returned to my childhood and the freedom that biking provides.

Swenson checks out the Minturn Bike Park on her Daycation in Minturn.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

BBQ to the rescue

Time to eat again! I leave the Bike Park and head to Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ Bar on Main Street, a classic stop when in Minturn. I look for owner, Mark Tamberino but he has left for the day. Tamberino serves up the barbecue styles from Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC. Before this was Kirby Cosmo’s, it was JB’s BBQ and Tamberino still holds on to those flavors, but has added other items to the menu as well. I order a pulled chicken sandwich and a basket of hand-cut French fries.

The pulled chicken sandwich at Kirby Cosmo’s BBQ Bar in Minturn.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

The day is winding down in Minturn, and there’s still more to explore, but I’ll leave that for another Daycation.

Daycations: Biking, ski history, art and spa deals in Vail

Editor’s Note: “Daycations” is a series we are doing through the month of May showcasing what our local towns have to offer in the shoulder season.

If you haven’t been to Vail since the mountain closed for the winter season, you are missing out on some gems you may not know about. Although many businesses and activities close for the shoulder season, there’s something about going to Vail when it’s less busy that locals enjoy. Follow me as I take you on my Daycation journey to Vail.

First thing to note is parking is free during the day right now, unlike the paid parking you find in the winter. So, I packed a bag and a bike and headed to Vail for the day. I decided to start at Unravel Coffee which is inside The Slope Room at Gravity Haus Vail. To jog your memory, this space is the former Terra Bistro restaurant in Vail. Unravel Coffee is proud to serve a sustainable cup o’ joe and co-produces and imports products straight from Ethiopia. They roast the coffee in-house with its zero emission, zero waste Bellwether Roaster.

I’m not a coffee drinker so I ordered a chai latte. If you are taking your beverage to go, Unravel Coffee serves it up in one of its reusable glass jars. Bring it back for your next cup and get a discount for using the same jar or place it in the receptacle on site if you won’t be back for a while.

I order the grab and go overnight oats since I’m trying to not eat a big meal before my bike ride, but if you have the time and the appetite, enjoy items like avocado toast, smoked salmon toast or the Haus breakfast. I check a few emails and then gaze out the window at the melting snow on Golden Peak.

Getting the day started at Unravel Coffee at Gravity Haus Vail.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

The morning ride

The activity for the day is a 20-mile round trip bike ride on the Vail Pass Time Trial course, otherwise known as the Vail Pass cul-du-sac ride, which takes you halfway up Vail Pass. This course was used in the Coors Classic in the 1980s and the USA Pro Challenge in 2011, 2013 and 2014. You can still see the messages painted on the surface of the road saying “TEJAY” for American cyclist Tejay van Garderen and “Shut up legs,” a phrase coined by German bike racer Jens Voight, who both competed in the USA Pro Challenge.

Depending on where you start, the distance is just under 10 miles from Vail Village to the cul-du-sac. My bike is in my car in the Vail Village parking structure, so I headed out on the frontage road going east. From here you can enjoy the views of the Gore Range and the golf course on your right while you warm up to the idea of going uphill soon. The frontage road will weave under Interstate 70 and will take you to the “gate” where you will start the climb. This area is the steepest part and then it “flattens out” (but really, it’s still uphill) and you can even put it in the big ring when the grade backs off.

When you see a sign for the recreation path, continue straight. That recreation path continues for about another five miles to the top of Vail Pass but save that ride for another day once you’ve got more miles underneath you. It’s only May. The cul-du-sac marks the finish. From there, you’ll turn round and enjoy the views on the way down as the Vail Valley is stretched out in front of you.

The Vail Pass cul-du-sac ride is a classic ride in the Vail Valley that has been used as a Time Trial course for the Coors Classic and the USA Pro Challenge.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Watch the weather and plan your ride accordingly. Typically, there is more wind in the afternoon, but going earlier will usually be a bit colder. I went earlier in order to do the ride first and then head back into Vail for the rest of my Daycation.

A lesson in local history

After the ride, I put my bike back in my car and changed out of my bike clothes and headed to the Colorado Snowsports Museum. There is so much history about the ski industry in Colorado, including the story of the 10th Mountain Division, the famed winter warfare unit that trained south of Vail at Camp Hale. There’s a short documentary that runs continuously that will get you up to speed about the accomplishments of the 10th.

Stick around to check out the different displays that will show you how ski equipment has evolved and some of the primitive snowboards that were used when the sport began. Learn about Colorado’s 26 active ski areas and the 30 “lost resorts” that used to operate near and far. There’s also an interactive display of Olympic history and you can view the uniforms for the U.S. Alpine, Aerials, Freestyle and Freeski competition on display. This will be the last time Spyder supplies the uniforms for those teams. Italian company Kappa will outfit the athletes at the next Winter Olympic Games in Italy in 2026.

The Spyder competition uniforms are on display at the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail Village.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

The Colorado Snowsports Museum has an awesome gift shop as well, so if you need a birthday present, hostess gift, wedding present or want something for yourself, shop locally and support the nonprofit Colorado Snowsports Museum.

After my bike ride and all that learning and discovering at the museum, it was time to have lunch. I am right next door to La Cantina, a little San Diego-style Mexican food joint right in the Vail Village parking structure that is priced affordably. I love chips and salsa and I get to pick out a few flavors at La Cantina’s salsa bar while I wait for my grilled mahi mahi soft taco with spicy sauce on a corn tortilla. I only order one taco because I know I am going to eat a whole basket of chips and all my salsas all by myself!

Art walk tour

Time to walk off lunch, so I head toward Bridge Street after grabbing a map for the self-guided art walk tour of Vail from the Visitors Center just one floor up from La Cantina and the Snowsports Museum. You can also go to ArtInVail.com on your phone and get some information there. The first piece of art is pretty obvious, it’s the 10th Mountain Division Memorial statue next to Gore Creek and the Covered Bridge.

The Children’s Fountain is another iconic piece of art that pretty much comes to life as an actual children’s fountain with real water and children jumping around and enjoying splashing around the boulders during the summer.

A public art display that is less obvious are the riddles created by artist Carolyn Braaksma on Wall Street. Study the images and words engraved on the stones and see if you can solve the riddles designed specifically for Vail’s landmarks, gardens, ski slopes and more.

Stop in the streets and solve the riddles as part of the Art In Public Places in Vail.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Relaxation and rejuvenation

Time to head to Lionshead for one of my favorite shoulder season activities – spa deals! This time of year, many of the local spas will offer discounts on treatments. I booked my treatment at Well & Being at the newly remodeled hotel, The Hythe, formerly the Vail Mountain Marriot. They are running a special: A 50-minute custom massage or facial for $139 through the month of May.

I got there early so I could enjoy some of the amenities that are included in the spa treatment. The Recovery Room had ways to revive my body after my bike ride with a leg compression machine, the Hypervolt massage tool, a heated jade stone mat and I warmed my muscles before the massage with heated Himalayan salt stones.

Recovery modalities are trending at spas everywhere. After my bike ride, I put on a pair of these leg compression sleeves at the Recovery Room at Well & Being Spa.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Then it was time to meet massage therapist, Leo, for my 50-minute custom massage. Leo was so awesome and asked what areas needed the most work and I told him my neck, shoulders and upper back always need the most kneading. Then I blissed out for 50 minutes.

Back to reality, but not before checking out the Halo salt inhalation therapy room. Salt therapy helps with respiratory conditions. Consider the salt as a “bronchial brush” for the airways. I brought a swimsuit, so I headed out to the whirlpool which is right next to the gym, but I already had my work out on the bike, so no need to pump any iron or do more cardio today, but you can use the gym before or after your treatment. Last stop, the steam room before hopping into the shower.

Well & Being Spa invites guests to the Himalayan Salt Inhalation Lounge where you inhale beneficial salt infused air.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Dining and drinks

My next stop wasn’t far. The Hythe has a super fun bar just up the stairs from the lobby called Revel Lounge and they were previewing some of the items on the summer menu, so I enlisted the help of a friend to join me in trying some of these delicious dishes brought out by chef Israel Delgado. These dishes were fresh and spelled S-U-M-M-E-R with a beet salad, burrata with rhubarb, a carrot “tower” and a mountain salad, which can be topped off with salmon or chicken if you want to add a protein.

The beet salad in the foreground and burrata with rhubarb in the background pairs well with the Into the Wild cocktail featuring Woody Creek Distillers Vodka, wild raspberry syrup, ginger, lemon and soda.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Chef Israel would have kept the food coming, but we told him it’s almost swimsuit season, so we had to reel it in. We did try some of the drinks off of the cocktail menu with the help of our server, Phillip, who suggested the Into the Wild drink with vodka and raspberries for my friend and the Far From the Tree for me, a bourbon-based drink with apple cider, lemon, bitters and ginger beer.

After that, it was time to say goodbye to the hotel; after all, it’s a Daycation and not a staycation, but there’s one more stop and that’s the Altitude Sports Bar at the Evergreen Lodge. Shoulder season means playoff season and whether you are watching the puck drop or slam dunks, look to those big screens to keep up with all the action. Many of my off seasons would be spent watching the Avs play when I wasn’t out in Moab or in some other warm locale while the snow melted in Vail.

These are just a few suggestions on how you can pass the time before a busy summer ahead. Remember, shop local, eat and drink local and thank these local folks who are working hard for you this spring.

YouthPower365 Stars Variety Show puts the ‘fun’ in ‘fundraiser’

Formerly the highly popular Star Dancing Gala, the Stars Variety Show features local talent of all varieties on The Amp stage.
Vail Valley Foundation/Courtesy photo

The stars come out both on-stage and in the audience each year at the annual YouthPower365 Stars Variety Show at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, the largest fundraiser for the Vail Valley Foundation’s education initiative YouthPower365. Formerly the highly popular Star Dancing Gala, the Stars Variety Show features local talent of all varieties on The Amp stage performing for a crowd that generously supports YouthPower365’s impactful work to help youth reach their full potential.

Tickets are on sale now for the Stars Variety Show, taking place the evening of Tuesday, July 12. The Bubbles & Dessert ticket option includes bubbles, dessert and the show for $85; the Sip & Savor ticket option includes chef-selected small plates and drinks at Larkspur Restaurant followed by bubbles, dessert and the show for $375. The evening’s schedule starts at 5:30 p.m. with the pre-show dinner followed by bubbles and dessert at 7:15 p.m. and the fund-a-need, live auction and Stars Variety Show at 8:15 p.m. Post-show will be dancing under the stars. Visit StarsVarietyShow.com for tickets and more information.

“The first-ever Stars Variety Show in 2021 was a huge success and a truly special evening for our community,” said Sara Amberg, executive director for YouthPower365. “We can’t wait to build upon the variety show model and show off some of the unique talents within our community. YouthPower365 provides programs from early childhood to college and career — it’s amazing to see how far your support can go in making the valley a better place for our youth.”

As the sole beneficiary of the Stars Variety Show, YouthPower365 depends on the generosity of donors to provide quality learning opportunities for children ages 3-18 throughout the year. Less than 2% of the organization’s revenue derives from fees, because no family is ever turned away from programs due to financial circumstances.

YouthPower365 employs more than 130 local part-time coaches, interns, educators and mentors to help youth reach their full potential through a wide continuum of programs including Magic Bus mobile preschool, PwrHrs afterschool, The Steadman Clinic COPA soccer, Girl PowHER, The CLUB and more.

The Stars Variety Show’s presenting sponsors are Amy & Steve Coyer and Ann Smead & Michael Byram. The annual evening tends to raise over $1 million to support YouthPower365.

For more information and tickets to the YouthPower365 Stars Variety Show at The Amp on July 12, visit StarsVarietyShow.com.

If you go…

What: YouthPower365 Stars Variety Show

Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail

When: Tuesday, July 12

Cost: The Bubbles & Dessert ticket includes bubbles, dessert and the show for $85; the Sip & Savor ticket ($375) includes chef-selected small plates and drinks at Larkspur Restaurant followed by bubbles, dessert and the show

More information: Visit StarsVarietyShow.com


Railroad Earth added as final headliner for 2022 Block Party

Americana bluegrass band Railroad Earth has been added as the final headliner to the 2022 Block Party lineup in Downtown Eagle taking place June 3-5.
Ojeda Photography/Courtesy photo

Organizers of the Block Party have announced renowned bluegrass-influenced Americana band Railroad Earth as the final headlining act to perform at the 2022 event. The group is slated to play the main stage on Saturday, June 4 at 9 p.m., closing out two days of live music by 13 bands on three stages.

For more than two decades, Railroad Earth has captivated audiences with their gleefully unpredictable live shows and studio releases. The group introduced its signature sound on The Black Bear Sessions in 2001 and have sold out shows in major venues across the country, including Red Rocks. They launched Hangtown Music Festival in Placerville, California and Hillberry: The Harvest Moon Festival in Ozark, Arkansas. Both festivals have had successful runs for more than a decade. The John Denver Estate tapped RRE to create music for lyrics penned by the late John Denver on the 2019 vinyl EP, “Railroad Earth: The John Denver Letters,” that has tallied tens of millions of streams and earned widespread critical acclaim.

In addition to Railroad Earth, the Block Party music lineup features Thievery Corporation, Heavy Breathers (with George Porter Jr. and JoJo Hermann), Ripe, Common Kings, Sam Bush, Keller & The Keels, Eric Krasno & The Assembly, Rebirth Brass Band, Liver Down the River, The Runaway Grooms and Trees Don’t Move. One and two-day general admission and discounted teen passes are available.

Tickets are also available for the Bloodies & Bluegrass closing concert with Leftover Salmon on Sunday, June 5 that includes an intimate performance with Leftover Salmon, along with a full buffet brunch and open bar.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit BlockPartyEagle.com.

If you go…

What: 2022 Block Party Music Festival

Where: Downtown Eagle

When: June 3-5

Cost: $79 – $129

More information: BlockPartyEagle.com

The Movie Guru: “Top Gun: Maverick” outflies the original

“Top Gun: Maverick” catches up with Maverick (Tom Cruise) decades after the first movie, where he’s working as a test pilot and continuing to get himself in trouble.
Paramount/Courtesy photo

The original “Top Gun” is a brash, sun-drenched movie about fast planes, cool sunglasses and rugged masculine individualism. Somehow, it’s also a movie about how grief can shatter you so deeply you’re fundamentally changed as a person.

The amazing thing about “Top Gun: Maverick,” opening this weekend, is that it navigates this strange dichotomy even better than the original. It dials back the brashness, takes a more thorough look at the grief and makes the planes go even faster. Together, it makes for a thrill ride with a surprising amount of heart.

The sequel catches up with Maverick (Tom Cruise) decades after the first movie, where he’s working as a test pilot and continuing to get himself in trouble. When he’s sent back to Top Gun to teach a group of younger pilots how to survive an upcoming mission, he’s forced to confront his past and figure out the flight path to the future he wants.

Though it’s less brash, in a lot of ways this movie is actually more fun than the original. Cruise is still cocky, but he’s mellowed out just enough to be more likeable. They give more time to the rest of the cast, who are also largely likeable, and the central romance has some real chemistry. There’s real plot mixed in with the action to make things more interesting, and the cliches are more nuanced. There are even a few genuinely laugh-out-loud moments to top it all off.

If you’re here for the flying, you’re also not going to be disappointed. Like in the first movie, all the aerial scenes feature real planes flown by real pilots. This time they’re flying considerably faster, pulling off tricks I hadn’t known were actually possible. The mission at the end feels incredibly dangerous even to those of us who have no idea what all the technical lingo means, becoming only more so to those who do.

There’s also some real depth here. Though the ending of the original “Top Gun” seemed to wrap up his grief in a neat little bow, the sequel makes it clear that didn’t last. He’s still caught up in the echoes of that grief to this day, deeply enough that it’s impacted his relationship with Goose’s son Rooster (Miles Teller). Cruise isn’t the most nuanced actor these days, but here his performance gives full weight to all the shades of grief, fear and longing his character experiences.

Cruise and Teller have a particularly good, emotional dynamic between them. Though the roots of the conflict don’t get a great deal of discussion in the script, the actors make you feel everything that isn’t said. Almost the entire impact of the ending rest on their shoulders, and together they carry it off beautifully.

If you loved the first “Top Gun,” or even liked it, you need to see this movie. Even if you didn’t like the original, however, you might want to give “Top Gun: Maverick” a try. It soars a lot higher.

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at themovieguruslc@gmail.com.


Memorial Day ceremonies, Blues, Brews & BBQ, Jake Owen in concert, comedy for all ages and more: Tricia’s Weekend Picks 5/27/22

Memorial Day Weekend Events

There will be two local Memorial Day Ceremonies on Monday: Tennessee Pass near Ski Cooper at 11 a.m. and Freedom Park in Edwards at 2 p.m.
Vail Daily Archive

Every year, the last Monday in the month of May marks Memorial Day, a federal holiday in the United States honoring those who lost their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces. It was originally called Decoration Day because people would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, flags and wreaths. It is sometimes confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who died while serving, while Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

Freedom Park

Locally, you can honor those who died in the line of duty by attending the Memorial Day Ceremony at Freedom Park in Edwards on Monday at 2 p.m. The Freedom Park Memorial Committee and VFW Post 10721 will be conducting its 18th annual ceremony in memory of all veterans of the armed forces and emergency response agencies who have served our country, and especially to those from Eagle County who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and safety.

Honor our fallen heroes and support the active-duty troops and our home town emergency responders who are serving today. The service will include local veteran color guard, dignitaries, veterans, the Battle Mountain High School Varsity Drum Line, and music from Michelle Cohn Levy of B’nai Vail. The Keynote speaker is Claire Noble, United States Air Force Veteran.

The public is welcome to attend and the ceremony will be held at the Freedom Park Memorial American Flagpole Plaza in Edwards on Miller Ranch Road on the west side of the pond. For questions, call Pat Hammon of the Freedom Park Committee at 970-390-4686.

Tennessee Pass

The 10th Mountain Division Foundation will present its 64th Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday at 11 a.m. at Tennessee Pass near Ski Cooper. The event is a Memorial Day tradition and allows guests an opportunity to honor those fallen and see and touch WWII artifacts and equipment provided by the 10th Mountain Division Foundation Living History Group.

The public is invited to attend and so are various groups like the Canon City Junior ROTC Color Guard, who will post colors. Music will be provided by the 4th Infantry Division Brass Quintet. There will be a keynote speaker, the laying of the wreaths and special readings.

Seating is limited, so attendees are asked to bring along a lawn chair and dress for the conditions as it can be cooler at that altitude. Stay for lunch if you’d like. Lunch will be available after the ceremony at the Ski Cooper base area lodge. For more information, go to 10thMountainFoundation.org.

Swing Concert and Dance

Go back in time this Memorial Day Weekend to the Swing Era and dance the night away to the sounds of local faves, The Fabulous Femmes.

“The Swing era, from 1933-1947, was a time when Big Bands dominated the music charts. Teenagers and young adults hit the dance floors in droves,” said Kathy Morrow of The Fabulous Femmes. “It was a tumultuous time in Europe when WW II began. Swing music and dancing was a way to escape the unfortunate news of the day and lift your spirits.”

Think of music by the Andrews Sisters as well as Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and many Great American standards. The Femmes plan to sing, “In The Mood,” “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Bei Mir Bist du Schon,” “Mood Indigo” and lots of other fun dance tunes.

“We always encourage our audience to dress up in the theme of our shows. Somehow, putting on a pair of platform shoes and a petticoat or wingtips and a pair of pinstripe pants just makes you feel like dancing. Our costumes reflect the patriotism that the whole nation was feeling at the time.” Morrow said.

The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Route 6 Café in EagleVail and there’s $10 cover charge. For more information, go to TheFabulousFemmes.com.

Tales of the 10th & Whiskey Tasting

The Colorado Snowsports Museum is a great resource to learn more about the veterans who were part of the 10th Mountain Division, which trained south of Vail at Camp Hale. View the equipment they used and what Camp Hale was like in photographs and displays as a part of the Climb to Glory exhibit.

On Sunday at 4 p.m., come for the Tales of the 10th and stay or the whiskey. Tales of the 10th features different experts and historians of the 10th Mountain Division and this week’s guest will be Flint Whitlock, a 10th Mountain historian and descendant who will share and educational presentation. After the talk, local craft distiller 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company will be on hand to offer samples of its whiskey. A $10 donation is suggested. For more information, go to snowsportsmuseum.org.

Blues, Brews and BBQ

Blues, Brews and BBQ kicks off on Friday night with live music and barbecue and continues on Saturday with Craft Beer Festival and the Big Green Egg Backyard BBQ Competition on Sunday.
Beaver Creek Resort/Courtesy photo

It is finally back! Blues, Brews and BBQ has always been Beaver Creek’s signature event that kicks off summer and due to COVID-19, the resort has not hosted it since 2019. Come hungry, thirsty and ready to groove to the blues rain or shine this weekend.

Most of the event will be held on the plaza level of Beaver Creek. Here you’ll find the various barbecue vendors and drink stands, picnic tables and the stage for all the bands. There’s complimentary admission with food and beverages available for purchase. The event runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday with a Kids Zone and Adult Game Zone featuring activities for all ages.

On Saturday, the Craft Beer Festival returns as well. Come taste samples from 20 breweries between 1 and 5 p.m. on Saturday. This event will be held at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain and will have its own entertainment. Local 80s cover band, Rewind will play tunes for the crowd. It’s $50 per ticket and this is the only ticketed event for the weekend and 20% of the ticketing proceeds will benefit the Vail Veterans Program, which is a Vail Valley-based nonprofit that provides injured members of the military and their families with innovative and transformational programs that build confidence and improve lives.

Also returning is the Big Green Egg Backyard BBQ Competition, giving amateur barbecue enthusiasts a chance to win bragging rights for the year. You can compete as an individual or in a team of up to three people. Every team will be provided with a Big Green Egg grill, a mystery grilling meat and side dish items. Three hours will be allowed for the contestants to cook up what they think will please the judges. This will happen near the Covered Bridge at Beaver Creek starting at 12 noon on Sunday.

Music is a big part of this event as well. Beaver Creek has a mix of local bands and brought in some great blues acts. Here’s the line-up below and for more information, go to BeaverCreek.com.


  • 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Twang Box
  • 6:30 p.m.– 8 p.m. – Taylor Scott Band


  • 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Burnsville Blues Band
  • 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Shari Puorto
  • 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Honey Island Swamp Band
  • 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Marc Broussard


  • 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Burnsville Blues Band
  • 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Shari Puorto
  • 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Popa Chubby
  • 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Samantha Fish

Jake Owen at The Amp

Multi-platinum country music artist Jake Owen comes to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater on Sunday.
Vail Valley Foundation/Courtesy photo

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater kicked off its summer concert series last weekend with the Trey Anastasio Band, and this week The Amp welcomes country music chart-topper Jake Owen.

Get your tickets for this show, last weekend’s show was a packed event even though it had snowed the day before. The elements don’t keep people away when they realize the talent that is coming to town. Look at Owen’s list of hits…and take a listen. If you’re like me, you’ll be saying, “Oh yeah, I know that song!”

The Amp is just one of many stops on Owen’s nationwide tour. Sing along to “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” Other platinum-certified hits include “Beachin,’” “Anywhere With You,” “Alone With You,” “The One That Got Away” and gold-certified “American Country Love Song.” His latest hit, “Made For You,” is rapidly rising on the charts and “Best Thing Since Backroads” is getting rave reviews from “Rolling Stone” magazine.

Owen grew up in Vero Beach, FL and aspired to be a professional golfer. He still plays golf and in fact, was given Golf Digest’s Arnie Award along with Phil Mickelson and Peyton Manning in 2017 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his charitable contributions through the Jake Owen Foundation.

Who knows, maybe you’ll find Owen at the Vail Golf Club before his show at 7:30 p.m. at The Amp on Sunday night. Tickets range in price from $45 – $80 and you can find out more information at grfavail.com.

Vail Comedy Festival

Comedian Leah Bonnema performs in front of a packed house at the Bridge Street Bar on Feb. 24. The Vail Comedy Festival makes its inaugural debut in Vail Village and Lionshead this weekend.
Jon Resnick/Courtesy photo

Couldn’t we all use a few laughs right now? Get ready to chuckle, crack up and even cry tears of happiness and joy when the inaugural Vail Comedy Festival comes to town Friday through Sunday.

This three-day festival is bringing in acts from Washington state to Alabama, from Los Angeles to Boston and many places in between. The four headliners are coming in from New York City and many of these comedians have performed on big stages and screens like Comedy Cellar, Late Night on CBS, HBO and American’s Got Talent.

Bridge Street Bar in Vail Village will play host to most of the events, but there will also be acts on the streets and even the playground. Loaded Joe’s Coffee Shop, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Tasting Room, Cucina at the Lodge at Vail and Vendetta’s will house the crowds for the various comedy shows, podcasts, magic performances and open mic opportunities.

The kids can get into it, too. The Vail Comedy Festival has teamed up with RocketFizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop to offer some great acts during the day at Sunbird Park in Lionshead with magician Travis Nye and Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, the veterinarian from Animal Planet. These shows at Sunbird Park are free and will be at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The town of Vail and the creator of the Vail Comedy Show, Mark Masters, hope this becomes a signature event over Memorial Day Weekend in Vail each year. Check out VailComedyFestival.com for festival schedule, the free children’s shows, passes for the whole event or information on how to see a particular show.

SunsetLIVE! in Avon

Head to Nottingham Lake for SunsetLIVE!, Avon’s free live music concert series on Sundays now through Sept. 4.
Town of Avon/Courtesy photo

Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of the SunsetLIVE! concert series at Harry A. Nottingham Park in Avon. Every Sunday from now until Sept. 4 enjoy live music on The Terrace at the Avon Performance Pavilion casual musical performances by local Eagle County musicians.

This free offering is set on the west side of the stage and the musicians can be seen and heard from the water. Watch the sun going down while grooving to tunes on your stand up paddle board or on a paddle boat on Nottingham Lake. You can even hear the music from the North Shore Beach or South Lawn of the Pavilion.

This week’s band is Rocket Parade, a Colorado-based rock and soul band. The lineup of acts is now on DiscoverAvon.org.

If you’re not listening from a water vessel, bring a lawn chair, a blanket and a picnic. SunsetLIVE! is the perfect venue to wind down your weekend, so gather your friends and family, bring a lawn chair, picnic basket and bring your own drinks. SunsetLIVE! is BYOB and all Avon events are plastic free so when you pack your favorite beverage be sure it is not in single-use plastic container.

Prepare to enjoy a relaxing Rocky Mountain sunset as this weekend’s weather looks good for the holiday weekend. this free offering happens from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Go to DiscoverAvon.org for more information.

Local photographer accepted into historic Colorado exhibition

A local photographer will be hand delivering submissions to the oldest juried art exhibition in Colorado this June.

Raymond Bleesz, co-founder of the Vail Valley Art Guild Photographers group and member of the Colorado Fine Arts Center (CPAC) since 1976, has been notified by the Gilpin County Arts Association of his acceptance to the Diamond Jubilee, a 75-year-old annual national exhibition and the oldest in the State of Colorado.

The Diamond Jubilee is a juried show for 3D artists, painters and photographers. Each category has specific credentialed jurors who are specialists in each field. The works will be on display at the Washington Hall Gallery in Central City from June 11 through Aug. 20.

This year, the photographic juror was Professor Carol Golemboski of the University of Colorado Denver photo department. Golemboski received an MFA in Photography from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1999 and an MA in Art from The University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996. She has been the recipient of numerous grants including individual artist fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Saltonstall Foundation and Light Work. Her “Psychometry” series won the 2007 Project Competition Award from Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Golemboski’s images have been published internationally in textbooks and notable photographic journals in the United States, China, France, Spain, Austria and Sweden.

Three of Bleesz’s four submitted images were accepted for the exhibition, a noteworthy feat. Here are those three photographs, their respective titles and the significance of the image, as provided by Bleesz himself.

"Portrait—Edgar Allen Poe"
Raymond Bleesz/Courtesy photo

“Portrait—Edgar Allen Poe”

“The silhouette portrait of Alexa (an individual who was a community member at one time, the photo was taken in Eagle) was striking, however, her tattooed Edgar Allen Poe statement was my focus, and such a unique hair style, as well as her belief in Poe as a poet. Alexa was leaving the state that afternoon. I made arrangements with her for a late afternoon shoot in the shade. I pinned up a black cloth on a building wall and took her portrait. I eventually sent her a print. Poe’s poetic statement was most profound.”

Raymond Bleesz/Courtesy photo


“This photograph of a photograph which was ‘wheat pasted’ on the side of a derelict building on the Ute Reservation outside of Kenyatta has a strong statement of not only the individual who was photographed, who had the word tattooed on his fingers but for me as well — a belief in self, a belief in self actualization, a belief in work. I have passed by this derelict building since this photo was taken, and vandals have partially destroyed it.“

Raymond Bleesz/Courtesy photo


“This image is a sad commentary on our society today, IMO, harking back perhaps to ‘New Topographics,’ which impacted me greatly. Likewise taken on the Reservation, this traffic stop light boldly promotes an iconic American product, perhaps at the expense of the Native Americans. This is an example perhaps of a dichotomy, a juxtaposition, paradox, metaphor and a sense of dry humor, which is a characteristic of my work. An honest statement of the times, and it does little to promote or help the identity of the Native Americans. It does in fact lessen them. Food for thought!“

Henry’s Pick: Vail Mountain’s first avalanche rescue dog collaborates with 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits

Mike Kang, left, Chris “Mongo” Reeder and Henry, center, and Ryan Thompson pose for a photo after Henry picked the bourbon barrel at 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company’s distillery in Gypsum.
Amanda DeGrazia/Courtesy photo

In a world full of collaborations on social media between fashion labels, rock stars and athletes, it only makes sense that Henry, the “Dogfather” of the Avalanche Rescue Dog Program on Vail Mountain, should have his own collaboration.

Henry became the first K9 member of Vail Ski Patrol in 2008. He was just a young pup then, but he and his handler, Chris “Mongo” Reeder, helped lead the way for what would soon be a pack of helpful hounds who act as safety ambassadors that connect with the public on and off the slopes.

Henry, a golden retriever that Mongo and his family brought home to the Vail Valley from Port Huron, MI, is now 14 years old, soon to be 15 in July. To honor Henry’s legacy, Mongo and friend, Mike “Kanger” Kang, decided to team up with local brand 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company.

Henry has been a service dog his whole life and will be 15 years old in July.
Amanda DeGrazia/Courtesy photo

‘We’re not wine guys’

This isn’t Henry’s first venture in the alcohol business. Henry’s Legacy Wine was a red table wine that debuted at the 2017 Taste of Vail Lamb Cookoff and Apres Ski Tasting in Vail Village.

“We created Henry’s Legacy Wine in an effort to raise money for the Avalanche Rescue Dog Program at Vail Mountain and C-RAD – Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment program – whose mission is to train, inspire and produce dog teams for successful avalanche search and rescue,” Mongo said.

“We sold all of it and raised a bunch of money, but when it was time to put the chips back into the pot, Mikey asked me, ‘Do we want to do this again?’ and I said, ‘Mikey, we’re not wine guys.’”

Mongo realized that part of the wine experiment was successful, and part of it was also proof that maybe that social circle wasn’t close to home for them.

“We realized that we’re bourbon guys. So, Mickey and I decided to hold off on doing more wine and if the opportunity presented itself down the road to reinvent Henry’s Legacy as a bourbon, then we’d think about it,” Mongo said.

Mike Kang went to work, reaching out to different distilleries, forging relationships, exploring different business plans and various approaches on how to honor Henry with a nice bourbon they could share with family and friends while giving back to service dog programs.

Henry was the first dog to become a part of Vail Ski Patrol and the Avalanche Rescue Dog Program on Vail Mountain in 2008.
Amanda DeGrazia/Courtesy photo

“Bourbon is the most explosive growth segment in the spirits space and two years ago when I was setting up meetings and doing all the research and legwork, the distillers all said, ‘yup, come down to Kentucky and meet us,’ but it just wasn’t the time or the place for us,” Kang said.

“We put a lot of effort in to come full circle and find something right in our backyard with Ryan and 10th Mountain Whiskey and it seems like the perfect partnership,” Mongo said.

Ryan Thompson is the owner of 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company. Founded in 2014, the company pays homage to the 10th Mountain Division, the winter warfare unit that trained south of Vail at Camp Hale and fought pivotal battles during World War II. Once the soldiers returned, many of them developed ski areas like Vail and created the outdoor industry as we know it today. They have a tasting room on Bridge Street in Vail and a small-batch craft distillery in Gypsum.

“If you live in Vail or have been in Vail for more than five minutes, you know who Henry is,” Thompson said. “It was a no brainer, the second I heard about this opportunity, it was like, ‘yeah, how do we do this?’”

The wheels were set in motion, meetings were held, logos discussed, but the most important part of the equation had yet to be determined: Which 10th Mountain Whiskey would become Henry’s Legacy Bourbon?

Thompson suggested they do some tastings at the distillery.

“We had nine different samples that we tasted through. Mongo, Kanger and I narrowed it down to two barrels and then Henry picked one of those two,” Thompson said.

Mongo, Kanger and Thompson all sampled 9 different whiskeys before narrowing it down to two. Henry picked between those two samples and that became Henry’s Legacy Bourbon.
Amanda DeGrazia/Courtesy photo

Henry’s Pick

Notes were taken, discussions were held, some samples were tasted again and finally the three narrowed the selection down to two barrels. Now, it was Henry’s turn to select the winner.

Two small barrels were placed in front of Henry, and two small dishes of the corresponding whiskey were placed in front of each barrel. Whichever barrel Henry went to first would be the barrel that would be used for the first batch of Henry’s Legacy Bourbon.

Mongo explained the “game” to Henry, as he had done all of Henry’s life. Being an avalanche dog isn’t all belly rubs and photo sessions. Henry has worked hard to learn the skills to find those in need and to save lives. To make things fair, Mongo did the best picks out of three, so Henry was sure what he was selecting.

The decision was made. There were hoots, hollers, applause and, of course, treats for Henry. Then a paw print was made of Henry’s left paw to stamp the barrel he picked. This paw print will be a part of the labeling on the new bourbon bottles. The actual logo itself will be similar to the logo that was on the wine bottles of Henry’s Legacy Wine.

Henry’s Legacy Bourbon will be sold at both the 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company Tasting Room on Bridge Street in Vail and at the distillery in Gypsum as well. They are also talking about other avenues to sell it to the public.
Amanda DeGrazia/Courtesy photo

Thompson said they hope to have Henry’s Legacy Bourbon ready for public consumption in July.

Giving back

This collaboration didn’t come about just because of the love of whiskey. Both organizations have a philanthropic side. Henry’s Legacy Wines supported service dogs since Henry has been a service dog all his life. One of the nonprofits Henry’s Legacy Bourbon plans to give back to is K9s for Warriors.

The 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company supports many nonprofits including those who help veterans as a nod to its 10th Mountain Division heritage and also programs that support service dogs and veterans.

“In a lot of ways, Henry’s Legacy Bourbon and 10th Mountain Whiskey parallel and complement each other,” Mongo said.

“We both have common causes. We both have common fundamental ideas about serving the community and serving the military and service dog organizations and so it seems like a really good partnership and that’s why we’re here going down this road,” Thompson said.

To learn more about Henry’s Legacy Bourbon, go to HenrysLegacy.com. To learn more about 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Company visit 10thWhiskey.com.