Firefighters Tribute Festival at Stoneyard Distillery features live music, raffles and more on Saturday
The Firefighters Tribute Festival is happening this Saturday at Stoneyard Distillery in Dotsero. This is a brand new event dreamed up by Dave Kraft, a Vail Valley local since 1981 who wanted to express gratitude and appreciation to the local, regional and national firefighters who fought the wildfires in Colorado for their bravery, dedication and public service.
Kraft drives for Turtle Bus Tubing and the Grizzly Creek fire near Glenwood Springs forced them to cease tubing operations along the Colorado River near Dotsero in August. With that time off from his job, Kraft came up with the idea to host an event to pay tribute to those fighting the fires.
“It’s kind of a silver lining. Without the fire, I would not have had the time or inclination to dream up the Firefighters Tribute Festival,” Kraft said.
Kraft had no budget and about a month to put this event together and quickly assembled the elements he’d need to host the type of festival he envisioned.
“Stoneyard Distillery in Dostero offers the perfect fall venue for an outdoor concert experience. It is a small-batch distillery with care and love put into every ounce. Max is making drinks affordable at just $5,” Kraft said. Owner Max Vogleman has graciously donated his venue and is offering two complimentary drinks to all firefighters.
Kraft’s employer, Turtle Tubing, Pizza and Bus Company is also located at Stoneyard Distillery and is offering pizzas for $14 and a complimentary personal wood-fired oven pizza to all firefighters. The Turtle Bus will offer round trip transportation from Vail, Avon, Edwards and Eagle for $30 per person.
The event goes from noon to about 8 p.m. on Saturday and the highlight will be the musical line up that goes on all day and features a wide variety of genres for all ages.
“I reached out to local musicians and got a great response from those who were able to donate their time to this event,” Kraft said. The musical line up includes:
Primal J and the Neanderthals
Helmut Fricker with Charlotte Bogert and Rupert Oberlohr
Al Maul Trio
Kraft also has always wanted to put together a band and formed the Fireman Legacy Band, which will be comprised of many of the musicians listed above.
“Al Maul is a former wildland firefighter from Montana and will play lead guitar during the Fireman Legacy Band set. DJ Crary will play lead guitar, Scott Davison will be on drums and Steve Corr may play lead guitar, mandolin and bass,” Kraft said.
The Fireman Legacy Band will play a blend of classic rock, a touch of outlaw country and originals.
In between sets, there will be raffles and a free drawing for firefighters. Prizes include a custom-designed marble plaque, two nights at the Four Seasons Vail, a snowmobile trip for two from Nova Guides and more. If you’d like to donate an item, please reach out to Kraft directly at 970-977-9649 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kraft has a few special items in the raffle due to a chance meeting with a marble carving instructor at the Marble Institute in the small town of Marble.
“I visited Marble near Carbondale, the source for marble for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and many other Washington monuments on Memorial Day weekend. It’s a beautiful place and then a strange thing happened. I got a flat tire near a marble sculpture gallery. There are no cell phone signals or gas stations for 32 miles. I couldn’t get the spare down from the undercarriage and the factory jack was bogus,” Kraft said.
“A kind, white-haired gentleman showed up and helped me for a couple of hours. All our best efforts to change the tire seemed in vain. His name was Rex Branson and he was an instructor at the Marble Institute in Colorado for 40 years for students the world over,” Kraft said.
“Rex was so patient to help a stranger like me in need. I’ll never forget it. When I mentioned my Fireman Tribute Festival I asked if he could carve a marble fireman’s ax with an inscription and he said sure and then he donated it. I was touched deeply because I wasn’t going to ask. I expected to pay. Rex started carving the inscription and said that that wasn’t enough. So, he carves a Fireman leaning on the plaque. Wow is all I can say. Then he donates a second sculpture of a Frontiersman Mountain Man for another prize. It was a silver lining situation much like the creation of the festival itself,” Kraft said.
The Firefighters Tribute Festival and the Fireman Legacy Band are something Kraft wants to continue for years to come.
“I plan to make next year’s festival even better and make it a permanent staple of autumn activities in the valley. As far as the band, I am looking for musicians that want to travel to every western town on the Epic Pass system and play concerts from a covered stage towed behind a tour bus. We never need to find a gig, we create a concert experience anywhere we travel,” Kraft said.
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