Oktoberfest at the Beav, free concerts in Avon and duck races in Vail: Tricia’s Labor Day Weekend picks
The holiday weekend is here with plenty of ways to wind down summer
Beaver Creek Oktoberfest
Labor Day Weekend not only signifies the unofficial end of summer, but it also kicks off Oktoberfest season in the Vail Valley. Beaver Creek’s three-day event ushers in two more weekends of Oktoberfest in Lionshead and Vail Village. Got lederhosen? Got dirndl? Wear ’em if you got ’em, people are not afraid to get into character for this!
Beaver Creek’s Oktoberfest was nominated in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice 2023 awards for Best Oktoberfest. Voting is going on now through Sept. 4 at 10 a.m. and the winners will be announced on Sept. 15. Beaver Creek is facing tough competition from other nominees in Chicago, Las Vegas, Milwaukee and even Snowbird in Utah.
On Friday, Beaver Creek Village will tap the kegs and start the music at 4:30 p.m. Beaver Creek will welcome back its sister city’s band, Trachtenkapelle of Lech-Zurs, Austria. Spinphony, an all-female electric string quartet will take the stage at 6:15 until 8 p.m.
Local entertainer and icon Helmut Fricker and his band will be taking turns on the stage with Tratchenkapelle throughout the festival. Capping off the weekend days will be The Breakers: A Tribute to Tom Petty on Saturday and “American Idol” finalist Constantine Maroulis on Sunday. The music and the event go from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
There will be plenty of beer and this year’s commemorative stein will be available for purchase. The design features the sister city relationship between Beaver Creek and Lech-Zürs with Beaver Creek’s landscape on one side and Lech-Zürs on the other. The commemorative stein can hold 32 ounces and costs $125 at the event and your first beer is free. A 6-punch beer card is also available and can be used throughout the weekend. Individual sales for drinks are available and you can pay as you go.
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Food booths will be placed along the plaza level of Beaver Creek with traditional Bavarian fare like brats, sauerkraut, schnitzel, pretzels and more being served.
The competitions are occurring again this year. The bratwurst eating competition, stein holding competition and best dressed competition will be held throughout the weekend near the base of the mountain on a separate stage. The Kids Zone will also be near Centennial Express (No. 6). Complimentary games, bouncy castles and face painting will entertain the little ones.
Entry to the event is free and you can pay for food and drinks as you go. No pets are allowed at Beaver Creek Oktoberfest. For more information and a full schedule, go to BeaverCreek.com.
Avon’s Summer’s End Celebration
Don’t want summer to end? Neither does the town of Avon, so they are packing in as much as they can Friday through Monday with activities in the park and on the lake.
On Friday, the last Lakeside Cinema will take place with a free showing of the movie, “Soul.” Bring your blankets, lawn chairs and picnics and settle in for this Disney + Pixar film around dusk. The first 50 guests receive free popcorn.
On Saturday, make a day of it in Nottingham Park with activities like sand volleyball, playing at the swim beach or playground, or get a workout at the workout stations near the lake. Picnic tables are available to share a meal with family and friends and paddle boats and SUP rentals are available. On Sunday, the race action begins on Nottingham Lake with individual SUP races, team races on large standup paddle boards called the SUP-Squatch and a Cardboard Regatta. See who can stay up the longest for bragging rights and the creativity in the boats should be a sight to see.
Sunday winds down with not one but two SunsetLIVE! concerts. SunsetLIVE! is a free offering on The Terrace at the Avon Performance Pavilion. Grab a seat or a picnic table or watch it from the shore, dock or floating vessel of your choice. The High Five band will kick things off at 4 p.m. followed by Split Window at 6 p.m.
On Monday, Avon welcomes everyone to enjoy the last day of the holiday weekend with a free concert with The Beau Thomas Band. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and food vendors and a bar will have items to purchase. The Beau Thomas Band is a high-energy band from Summit County and will play everything from soul, R&B, rock, country and even a little hip hop on the stage.
For more information, go to Avon.org.
Vail Rotary Club Duck Race
Head to Gore Creek in Vail Village on Sunday for the Vail Duck Race. This fundraiser has been going on for over 25 years and benefits the Rotary Clubs of the Vail Valley. You can still adopt a duck for a chance to win $5,000 and other prizes. The Rotary Club folks will have tents with ducks for adoption on Sunday until 2 p.m. and the race will start at 3 p.m. The Vail Duck Race will start at the Covered Bridge and end at the International Bridge.
To enter the Vail Duck race, you simply adopt a duck or several ducks if you want to increase your chances of winning. The ducks have numbers on the bottom and those numbers correspond with who purchased them. If your duck is the first one across the finish line, you win $5,000. There are other prizes that have been donated from area businesses, so there is still a chance to win something even if your duck didn’t come in first.
For over 50 years the Rotary Clubs of Vail have been giving back and much of the money raised stays in Eagle County. During the pandemic, the Vail Rotary Club donated money to the local food pantry called the Community Market, the Vail Valley Salvation Army and SpeakUp ReachOut for suicide prevention. They also work to help Rotary International Youth Exchange send local high school juniors for a year overseas, and they help many other local nonprofits and help international efforts.
The cost to purchase a duck is $10, or get three for $20, five for $30 and so on. Any number of ducks can be adopted. If you can’t make it to Vail to purchase your duck, you can do so online at VailDuckRace.com.
Vail Jazz Party
A summer full of jazz culminates with the Vail Jazz Party this Labor Day weekend. The music started on Thursday and winds down on Monday afternoon. After 29 years, this event turns into more of a reunion than just a jazz concert. Some of these stars and patrons have been coming year after year.
The venues shuffle between the jazz tent at the Arrabelle at Vail Square and The Hythe Vail where the headquarters of the Vail Jazz Party will be and it will also host the evening and late-night sessions of music. New this year will be a B3 organ duo performance from Akiko Tsuruga and Bobby Floyd. Other special performances include the return of Wycliffe Gordon’s Funk Revolution, the Tribute to Milt Jackson featuring Mike LeDonne and Steve Nelson and a festival favorite, Niki Haris’ Gospel Prayer Meetin’ on Sunday with the Mile High Gospel Choir.
The Vail Jazz Foundation welcomed back many Vail Jazz Workshop alumni already this summer and get excited to hear the Vail Jazz Workshop sextet throughout the weekend. The Vail Jazz Workshop brings in a dozen of North America’s most talented and hardworking high school students who are picked from a number of applicants and brings them to Vail to participate in a 10-day workshop being led by jazz professionals.
The Vail Jazz Party Faculty Sextet features John Clayton (bass), Dick Oatts (saxophone), Bill Cunliffe (piano stand-in), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Lewis Nash (drums) and Terrell Stafford (trumpet) and they will play throughout the weekend.
Check out the website for an all-access pass or get individual session tickets at VailJazz.org.
Final Minturn Market
The last Minturn Market of the summer is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The valley’s first market is celebrating 26 years and some of the vendors have been there the whole time, like Carol Colletti, better known as Grammy from Grammy’s Jam. Minturn’s quaint small-town feel and the beauty that surrounds it provides a perfect backdrop for not only the produce vendors, but also the artisans and shopkeepers selling their wares.
Fashions, pet items, housewares, hats and more hats, jewelry, even wine samples Wild Mountain Cellars can be found at the Minturn Market. And don’t forget to check out the “speakeasy” at the new Eagle River Whisky tent. There will also be live music and kids activities like the mechanical bull and a build-your-own stuffed animal booth.
Make a day of it and enjoy a hike just outside of town like Lionshead Rock or a bike ride on the Grouse Trail before or after the market. Stick around and do some more dining and shopping throughout Minturn as well. For more information and information about the vendors, go to Minturn.org. Don’t forget this is the last Minturn Market of the season, so pencil it into your holiday weekend plans.