Festivals merge in Vail for holiday weekend
VAIL — Almost as impressive as the convergence of 13,000 rubber ducks on Gore Creek Sunday was the convergence of people on the streets of Vail Village.
The Gourmet on Gore festival of open-air tastings, along with the Vail Farmers’ Market, combined for a food lover’s paradise, and nice weather helped facilitate an easy stroll through it all. Festivalgoers enjoyed a wide range of options, reasonable prices, tolerable lines and South Frontage Road parking, as more than 350 cars spilled out of the structures in Vail and Lionshead.
Elway’s was serving 7x Wagyu pure Japanese beef sliders for $6. Their line extended past Vail Fine Wines, where their booth was located, and past neighboring shop the Cos Bar, as well, into the next booth, Parce Rum.
All told it was about a seven minute wait. Michael Kozacek, of Denver, waited the full seven minutes.
“Well worth it,” he said. “Elway’s beef is incredible.”
Pearce Rum was busy as well, serving tasters of 8- and 12-year-aged rum.
“I think people are really loving the drink options here as well as the food,” said Michael Suleiman with Parce Rum.
Art lovers couldn’t complain, either. Carrie Fell was giving out free signed poster copies of her new Gourmet on Gore painting. By Sunday, she had signed and handed out more than 500 copies.
“I’ve met people from all over the United States here this weekend,” she said. “It’s been really nice meeting the people who have been to previous Gourmet on Gore festivals and have collected those posters, too. This is my fifth year doing it.”
Enjoying their first trip to Vail and Gourmet on Gore were George and Pam LaBonty, of Dallas. Pam LaBonty said she loved Fell’s use of color in this year’s commemorative poster.
“I really went for a more saturated look with the colors, and people seem to be appreciating it,” Fell said.
At the Vail Farmers’ Market, Frank Guerrero said his booth was busy with people enjoying his colors as well. He had 15 different varieties of peppers in yellow, green, orange and red.
“One of the most popular are the big Italian Marconi peppers. It’s a little more uncommon of a pepper,” he said. “They turn just like the leaves, from green to red when the nights start getting colder,” he said.
‘CABO HERE WE COME’
But anyone in Vail wanting to see a spectacular display of color need look no further than Gore Creek at 3 p.m. What started as clear water quickly turned to a sea of yellow as far as the eye could see as 13,000 rubber ducks descended down the creek like mini-rafters navigating the rapids. The first duck to cross the line belonged to Lisa Tuthill, of Avon, who didn’t get to see her duck come from behind to claim the win.
“What a race,” exclaimed announcer Tony Mauro to a screening crowd. “That duck took a Lindsey Vonn line past the last eddy for the win.”
Tuthill was in Basalt during the race. But her friend, Rotary volunteer Dawn Kyle, saw Tuthill’s duck take its heroic line to victory and immediately called Tuthill and left her a message.
“I was hootin’ and hollerin’ when I heard it was Lisa’s,” Kyle said. “I called her and I said ‘Cabo here we come.’”
Enjoyed by old and young, the duck race was billed as the 17th annual. That’s how long the Vail Rotary has been managing it, but the actual race is probably closer to 25 years old, said Marilyn Fleischer, who moved to Vail on Dec. 17, 1962.
“I’ve been to all of them,” she said.
World War II veteran Bernard Gottlieb, 87, and his daughter, Eva Gottlieb, enjoyed a front-row seat on the International Bridge for the race. Also joining the Gottliebs for the duck race was Vietnam War veteran Nicky Ehlenbach.
“It’s my first one,” he said. “”Hysterical.”
Four-year-old Edwards resident Reid Tyler also enjoyed his first race on Sunday with his brother, 6-year-old Luke Tyler.
“It was really cool,” Luke Tyler said. “I want to come back next year.”
An annual event, the duck race partners the Vail Rotary with nonprofit organizations whose members sell Duck Race tickets. Last year, the Vail Rotary Club gave out over $12,000 to those nonprofit partners.
To learn more, visit http://www.vailrotary.com.