Start your stools: Minturn Barstool Races capture spirit of quirky town with tournament on Saturday
Spencer Whitlock is barreling down a hill on a barstool strapped to skis. He’s filming his run with a GoPro and probably holding a can of beer. This isn’t a “hold my beer” event.
“I’m taking it with me,” Whitlock half-joked.
Can’t view the video? Click here.
Last year, Whitlock, Patty Bidez and some of their other friends put together a Monty Python-themed team for the Minturn Barstool Races tournament: they were called “Where’d You Get Those Coconuts?” The quirkiness of their team matches perfectly with the event, this year on Satruday, March 7, and the spirit of the town of Minturn itself.
“If you ain’t first, you’re last,” Bidez said.
The Barstool Races started as a collaboration between the Minturn Community Fund and the Town of Minturn in 2016 and has grown since. The course has changed and the rigs have gotten better, but the general structure of the event has stayed the same.
In the tournament, which is double elimination style, teams can compete in Bustling Barstool or Anything Goes. Bustling Barstool is the gold standard – strap a stool at least 27 inches high to a pair of skis or snowboards, and let ‘er rip. In Anything Goes, teams can express their creative and chaotic talents. Like the name says, anything goes in this category. The non-negotiable is that everyone racing has to wear helmets on the course in both categories.
“Anything Goes gets pretty entertaining,” said Cindy Kreig, who works in economic development and special events with the Town of Minturn.
In their third year of competing, Bidez and Whitlock’s team is “Talladega Nights” themed. They reached out to the Wonder Bread press team and have been sponsored. They’ll be wearing Wonder Bread-branded scarves and hats as they race down the hill.
Style comes before everything else when designing a barstool racing rig. That’s partially why helmets are required. One team rode down on an exercise bike one year: it’s not difficult to picture how that probably went.
“I’ve driven a couple of these, and there’s not a lot of steering,” Whitlock said. “I took that exercise bike for a spin and that thing was terrifying.”
Can’t view the video? Click here.
This is the type of event that could only happen in Minturn. First off, it raises money for the Minturn Community Fund, which works to enrich the culture and lifestyle of the historic mining town by putting on events like the Barstool Races, as well as the free summer concert series and more.
Second: it’s an out-of-the-box event perfect for creative expression: Where’d You Get Those Coconuts? crafted a rabbit to represent the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python. They designed medieval knight costumes – and yes, the chainmail is real, Bidez ordered it from Amazon. One team went down on a motorbike-like rig decked out with a plastic horse head, likely severed from the body of a toy for little girls.
Prizes change every year: this year, winners will get official plaques and trophies. There’s also the Best In Show award for the crowd favorite, the team that puts on the best performance or the most entertaining race. It’s an extremely subjective and highly coveted award.
Vail Brewing Co., is sponsoring the afterparty at the Minturn Saloon by providing beer. Proceeds from beer will benefit the Minturn Community Fund.
Spectators can attend the event in Little Beach Park for free starting at noon on Saturday, March 7. Guests are able to bring their own food and drink. There will also be a station to try axe-throwing and an afterparty in the Minturn Saloon following the final awards ceremony from 3-5 p.m.
If you go …
What: Minturn Barstool Races
When: Saturday, March 7, noon-5 p.m.
Where: Little Beach Park, Minturn
Cost: Free to spectate
More information: Visit minturncommunityfund.org.