Man of the Cliff seeing big numbers in Avon
AVON — The Man of the Cliff seems to be settling in to his new home. On Saturday, the amateur lumberjack competition attracted 3,798 spectators and competitors to Nottingham Park. This year is the second time the event has taken place in Avon after moving from Red Cliff in 2014. Saturday’s spectator count was more than both days combined last year, which had poor Day 2 attendance due to rainy conditions.
“We’ve had such great numbers,” said organizer Amanda Williams. “An hour after we opened we already had more than 1,000 people.”
Andy Jessen with Bonfire Brewing, the sponsor of the event, said he knew anticipation was building when he sold 130 cases of his special Woodsplitter beer in Eagle County before the event even started.
“We always do 100 cases. This year, we did a little more and it was gone,” he said.
Bonfire also made special mugs for the event again this year. They sold out within a few hours on Saturday.
“We bought the same amount last year and had five cases left,” he said.
Bonfire was also selling spirits from Stranahan’s, 10th Mountain Whiskey and Stoneyard Distillery out of Dotsero.
“Stoneyard donated product, so 100 percent of what we make off those drinks is going to charity,” he said.
The charity benefiting from all the action is First Descents, formerly of Eagle County. The biggest donation Bonfire ever came up with for them as a result of Man of the Cliff sales has been $7,500.
“We’re looking to exceed that this year,” Jessen said. “At this point, I can’t see how we wouldn’t.”
In addition to more crowds, Jessen said the crowds themselves seemed to be more family orientated at Nottingham Park.
“I’ve seen a lot of strollers here this year,” he said.
First-time event attendee Trista Sutter, otherwise known as The Bachelorette, said the access to the kids park at Nottingham Lake was a big plus for the new venue. She spent time playing with her kids at the park while competitors threw axes and logs nearby.
“We’re definitely coming back next year,” she said.
‘BEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO AVON’
Scott Jones, of Edwards, a resident of Eagle County for the past 16 years, was also making rounds between the venue and the park with his son, 4-year-old Oliver.
“The amphitheater, the lawn, the beach, this is the best thing that’s happened to Avon since I’ve been here,” Jones said. “This all-encompassing kind of feel, we didn’t have that a dozen years ago.”
Jones has competed in the event before, taking third, but was just a spectator this year.
Competitor Dave Bombard, of Bishop Bindings out of Eagle, said the new log toss competition added another element of fun to the competition this year.
“I’m not that competitive, but it’s still a good time,” he said. “A lot of this stuff you can’t really practice so I only do it once a year, but I love being out here and it’s for a good cause. Having a few beers, throwing axes and shooting bows, it’s a great time.”
In one of the biggest upsets in Man of the Cliff history, the Bonfire Brewery team was defeated by team Celine Dion in the tug o’ war competition, a fan favorite event that ends day one of competition every year. Team Celine Dion was comprised of Matt and Mike Stanley, Matt Langhorst and Justin Conrad. Mike Stanley came in from Richfield, Utah, just for Man of the Cliff. It was the first time the Bonfire Brewery team has lost the tug o’ war.
“They had to beat us twice, actually, so it was an undisputed victory,” said Bonfire team member Sean Hanagan, the reigning Man of the Cliff champion.
The fun continues today at Nottingham Park starting at 10 a.m. with the speed wood chopping competition.