Eagle’s time to shine
Over the years, the size and duration of Vail’s off-season has changed as the town gets bigger and more events fill the spring and autumn months.But the ebb and flow of activity is much different downvalley. In Eagle, the county seat, there’s always plenty of activity.This developing town is comprised mostly of locals real, year-round folks who continue to shop, dine, and have fun even in the months of April and May. Tim Cochrane, executive director of the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce, believes that since the town transformed from a ranching community into the bustling small town it is today, Eagle residents “can’t afford the luxury of an off-season,” he says. In fact, many residents work during ski season, and then in March, begin readying for summer jobs, like construction or landscaping.ShoppingJan Rosenthal Townsend understands the off-season variance from Eagle to the rest of the valley she owns Shadey Deals/Alpine Ambiance with locations in Eagle and Edwards. She attributes the success of her Eagle store in the muddy months to the local following the store has cultivated. Because her clientele is local, she realizes how important it is to have Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts, along with items for each season. In the springtime she keeps things fresh with a gardening section in her Eagle store. Additionally, window coverings (the Shadey Deals portion of the business) are bought throughout the year as houses are built, but most commonly at the start of spring.DiningZach’s Deli was recently bought by George Yoder, a long-time valley resident. Like most people in the area, George has lived throughout the valley in Vail, Avon, and Edwards, but now resides in Eagle with his family. “Eagle is definitely not run by the tourists,” Yoder comments, “it’s run more by the kids and the schools.” He points out that Eagle’s weather is warmer, putting the town ahead of the weather pattern in the rest of the valley. “Our off-season is more around spring break I’m busier now than in March.”The Grand Avenue Grill is one of the most successful restaurants in the valley, and with its location in Eagle, it hardly experiences an off-season. Mike Ryan, owner of Grand Avenue Grill along with his wife Chris, says, “Eagle is a real town with couples and families.” Although May can be slightly slower than normal, he points out that “we aren’t even doing a half-off offer.” They hardly need to Grand Avenue Grill is consistently busy and always earns praise from Eagle residents.RecreationThe hot spot in Eagle lately has become Back Bowl which may be the nicest and most appealing bowling alley ever built.”Bowling is fun, and you can do it year round,” General Manager Doug Cahill says with a laugh. “We have bowling leagues that run through the off-season,” he says, adding that Eagle, being a year-round community, is important to all the businesses in the area.In addition to bowling, biking is also popular in Eagle. “Being down valley, Eagle is warmer and drier earlier,” says Mountain Pedaler owner Jim Popeck, “so the bike season begins earlier.” No longer thinking about skiing or riding, valley residents begin planning biking trips to Moab, or even just going on Wednesday night rides with fellow Eagle residents.Golfing is another possibility in Eagle this time of year. Whereas other courses are still covered in snow, Eagle Ranch has already opened. “The course is coming out of the winter,” admits Bob Dunn, head golf pro, and the greens are not as fast as they would be in peak season. For a county resident, however, a round of 18 is $23 less than it would be during the summer. Rusty golfers may even be able to save a few balls: the more wooded areas of the course, also known as the “native areas,” outside of the fairway have not grown in yet, making it much easier to find errant shots.All this is just a sampling of Eagle’s early start to the season; just about everyplace in Eagle is already in full swing. While most valley residents are accustomed to tourists eating at their restaurants, skiing their slopes, and wreaking havoc in the roundabouts, Eagle runs on its own time. So while it is easy to enjoy the solitude and slower pace that comes with off-season, it is also possible to begin your own summer season early. Eagle is only a few miles down the road, but it is a few weeks ahead of us all. VTUrsula Gross can be reached for comment at UrsulaGross@yahoo.com.
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