Helmut Fricker has a day job | VailDaily.com

Helmut Fricker has a day job

The jovial entertainer is also a master bookbinder

One could say it’s Oktoberfest season in the Valley right now. Beaver Creek just wrapped up its annual Labor Day Oktoberfest event and now the celebrations will move up valley. Lionshead will host the oompah hoopla this Friday through Sunday and Vail Village will accommodate this crowd favorite the following weekend. One fixture that can be found at all of these events is Helmut Fricker.

The German-born entertainer has been creating an atmosphere of Bavarian fun since he got to town during the early days of Vail. He can yodel, play the alpenhorn and accordion and can get even the most timid out on the dance floor to do the chicken dance.

Smiling, telling jokes and fostering a good time for all ages is the business this man is in. But did you realize that he also has a day job? In addition to being a beloved entertainer who has traveled the world (he has his own bobblehead doll and there was a 3-D chalk drawing made of him at Beaver Creek’s Oktoberfest this past weekend), he is also a master bookbinder.

This octogenarian (he is 83 years old) has a full studio in his home in Eagle where he works on anything from old family bibles from the 17th century to creating something brand new, such as a guest book for a wedding. He tailor-made a book to house letters from locals and dignitaries to Betty Ford and also created several customized pieces for people around the world, all by word of mouth. 

When Helmut Fricker was in middle school, the choice was to either go on to high school or learn a trade. He decided to learn the art of bookbinding. He studied as an apprentice for five years and became a master bookbinder in 1955.

The tools he uses are as old as the craft itself. He has various fonts and letters to guild a title or design a cover. Drawers of fabrics, leathers, and papers are stocked to help make the book look like it did originally. 

Visiting his studio is like taking a time machine back to the past. In a world where everything is so automated, it is fascinating to see true hand craftsmanship. Learn more about this iconic Vail local in today’s video.