High Altitude Society: Eagle River Youth Coalition’s 11th annual Valley Tastings celebrates youth | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society: Eagle River Youth Coalition’s 11th annual Valley Tastings celebrates youth

Heather Hower
High Altitude Society

Children, parents, grandparents and friends gathered to celebrate youth last month.

Eagle River Youth Coalition's 11th annual Valley Tastings was a resplendent outdoor fete, with sumptuous samples from 13 area restaurants, live music from Hardscrabble and brews from Bonfire Brewing. The annual fundraiser highlights accomplished youth in the valley and the adults who support them.

"Valley Tastings was such a fun night, watching kids run, sing, dance and twirl as parents sampled divine creations, all in the name of supporting Eagle County youth," said Michelle Stecher, executive director at Eagle River Youth Coalition.

'Community Event'

For the first time, Eagle River Youth Coalition paired with the town of Gypsum and hosted the event at the Lundgren Amphitheater. The change in venue paid off — more than 400 friends and family came out to celebrate and learn more about just what Eagle River Youth Coalition does: namely collaborate with youth-serving organizations to assess prevention needs, coordinate substance abuse reduction efforts and build capacity.

This all truly takes a village, but Eagle River Youth Coalition recognizes that and, in turn, recognized those who make a difference.

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Agnes Harakal, mental health champion, stood out as Difference Maker for work with Total Health Alliance for a Changing Minds event — a time to be open and honest about mental health and how it affects families.

Several students also were honored. Jordan O'Neil, a sophomore at Eagle Valley High School, was awarded the Positive Peer award; Rob Hixon, a senior at Vail Christian High School, as the Exemplary Young Leader; Brennecke Gale, a senior at Eagle Valley, received the Change Maker; and Melanie Ocampo, a senior at Battle Mountain High School, is the Legacy Builder.

"We loved creating this fun-loving community event where positivity flowed, friendships were renewed and such a wide variety of chefs shared their culinary creations," Michelle added.

The afternoon started sunny but soon a fall rainstorm blew in. No one seemed to notice as kids twirled the parasols, adults jammed to Hardscrabble and everyone laughed and noshed.

Restaurants that participated shared samples from around the globe including Annapurna, Baked and Loaded, Creekside Grill, Eat Drink, the Farm at Knapp Ranch, Gerard Family Beef, Home Chefs of Vail, Mid Vail, Mixtura, Rustic Farm to Fork, Splendido, Sundae, Tu Casa, Turgeon's Wood Fired Pizza and Wildwood Smokehouse.