Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: America’s Winter Opening offers plenty to do | VailDaily.com

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: America’s Winter Opening offers plenty to do

No races, no problem. There was still plenty to do over the weekend at Beaver Creek with America's Winter Opening.

This year the lack of snow forced officials to cancel the annual Birds of Prey races for the men's teams, but live concerts, beer tastings and fireworks filled in the gaps and kindled a celebratory atmosphere. Presented by Everbank, America's Winter Opening kicks off winter and the chilly temperatures and snowfall during the event added to the festive mood.

On Thursday night the Vilar Performing Arts Center stage welcomed Denver act, Strange Americans. This five-piece rock band got the modest yet spirited audience moving and grooving to the beats and put on a great show. Friday night, Bonfire Dub & Friends filled with house with their local and regional following and also used this occasion to serve as their album release party.

Live music also filled the air on the plaza to entertain and warm up the crowds. The Winter Wondergrass All Stars, which consisted of members of The Grant Farm and Leftover Salmon took to the stage on Friday afternoon. Town Calvary from Vail and The Williams Brothers Band out of Grand Junction braved the cold temperatures on Saturday. Event goers could keep warm by dancing and the Pumphouse Bar served up drinks including hot mulled wine.

The Beers of Prey beer tasting showcased 10 craft breweries from Colorado. In addition to their familiar brews, tasters were able to sample winter seasonals and special releases.

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Kettle Curling was played on the Black Family Ice Rink. Teams of two were able to compete for bragging rights. The eight-pound kettles weren't quite as heavy as the 44 pound "stones" used in Olympic curling competitions and they literally were kettle shaped and made out of cast iron. Instead of aiming the kettle at the "tee" in curling, this was played more like bocce ball. Check out today's video to meet last year's champions.