Local guiding companies Sage, Nova expanding roles
EAGLE COUNTY — For years, people have accused Darryl Bangert of not knowing how to fish. And for the record, he does not know how to fish.
But a new development in the summer recreation scene could change that. Nova Guides has sold its rafting and fishing operations to Bangert and his company Sage Outdoor Adventures, adding fishing to the list of activities available at Sage
“We’ve had a thousand inquires for fishing over the last couple of years,” Bangert said.
The acquisition also means Sage is now permitted for trips on the Shoshone section of the Colorado River.
“That will give us a nice Class III family trip all the way through September, which is something we were lacking,” Bangert said.
For Nova, the sale will allow the company to focus on its Camp Hale property, the crown jewel of its offerings.
“Over the past couple years we’ve invested heavily in capital improvements at our Camp Hale property,” said K.T. Bell, with Nova Guides. “We’ve laid sod down, increased the size of our backyard and manicured it so it’s a fantastic place for us to hold events. For large events for the Vail Valley, there’s no outdoor space that can hold 300 besides 4 Eagle Ranch, so we see the demand for exactly what we have.”
Up until this summer, that demand was being realized mainly through corporate events and private gatherings. But this summer, those private gatherings are trending toward the more social variety.
“We did three weddings last year, and we currently have 23 booked for this year,” Bell said.
CALL THE SPECIALIST
Bell’s predecessor at Nova Guides was John Knight, a local angler and event organizer who left to focus on the World Fly Fishing Championships, which will be held in Eagle County in September.
“He was an incredible mentor for me. He taught me a lot and supported me through the development of the wedding process,” Bell said. “But we both knew we needed to hire a wedding specialist; when he left it was the first thing I did.”
Enter Lori Harding. With 3,000 weddings under her belt, she is poised to help the company say “I do” when it comes to providing a venue for more weddings.
“There’s so many markets that the Vail Valley reaches — so many people want to be married in the mountains, but there are a lack of outdoor mountain venues,” Harding said. “Nova is really filling a need that the valley had to create more availability.”
With Harding on board, “I’m feeling a lot more confident going into this wedding season,” Bell said.
Bell set her original goal at six weddings for this year, which would double what she did last year.
She said she was surprised to see how many calls started rolling in.
“We redid our website to put weddings more at the forefront and did some good ol’ fashioned sales and marketing,” she said. “It got to a point where I was doing three to five site tours in a weekend, one right after another. We seemed just to reach the right audience.”
The actual ceremonies take place on a grassy island in the center of a 5-acre lake near Camp Hale, with receptions nearby in a 40-by 80-foot outdoor event tent. Catering is provided via a full-service Nova Guides kitchen.
“You’re able to have your ceremony and reception all at one place, outdoors in the mountains, which is pretty unique,” Harding said.