Shows go on at State Bridge
STATE BRIDGE ” Jersey Gerity’s rainbow-colored school bus named Libby barely escaped the State Bridge Lodge fire. Its slightly-melted windows show how close the flames came.
“It’s an act of some hippy god that it didn’t burn down,” he said. “But I would have traded this bus to keep the historical nature of this place.”
Gerity pointed to the wall at a framed photo of the “Let’s Rodeo” sign and disco ball that hanged above the old stage at the State Bridge Lodge, which burned to the ground June 2.
He pulled out a power drill and removed the photo, saying it’s a memorial of sorts to the lodge.
Gerity would bring the photo down to the first post-fire concert, which was about to begin in the spot where the lodge used to stand.
“We’re going to go out there and dance in the soot,” he said. “We’re going to look like raccoons by the end of the night.”
State Bridge held its first concert since the fire on Friday, with volunteers working feverishly for days, until the last moment, to clean up, build a stage, set up tents and restore electricity.
“I call it a barn-raising,” said Scott Stoughton, general manager of State Bridge River Resort. “That’s what it felt like. Everyone got together.”
About 25 volunteers were helping out Friday at the resort on the banks of the Colorado River, some 20 miles northwest of Vail.
The lodge, built in 1890, burned in the early-morning hours of June 2. Police say the fire was intentionally set after a burglary.
Stoughton said he wants the lodge to be rebuilt. Concerts will continue throughout the summer on the temporary stage.
Even if the old lodge is gone, the spirit of the place is intact, Stoughton said.
“I think more than ever,” Stoughton said. “I think it’s alive and well.”
With the sun setting and the flies swarming, dozens of people gathered for the show, featuring the Radiators. There were hippies, cowboys, bikers, kayakers, children and dogs.
“This place just draws all kinds of people,” said Kim Wille, a volunteer from El Jebel. “This is a place where you could come dance with everybody and there were no expectations.”
Wille said State Bridge is a retreat for her, where she came to hear concerts, camp and get away from day-to-day life. She’s seen acts like Tab Benoit, Commander Cody and Shakedown Street.
As volunteers made last-minute preparations, freight trains passed between the stage and the river. The conductors took long looks at the spectacle.
Rachel Preston, an Avon resident who was volunteering Friday, said she cried when she found out that State Bridge burned. She was impressed that concerts returned so quickly, she said.
“For them to do it and turn it around like that is incredible,” she said.
Losing the lodge was like losing a family member, said Vicki Diveley, who owned the resort from 1989-1998. She couldn’t understand how anyone could have set fire to the place.
“How could someone do this?” she said. “How could anyone do this to this place?”
But the memories of the old place will live on, said Eric Crofoot of Rancho Del Rio. And it can only come back bigger and better, he said.
“The place might have burned down, but the energy didn’t,” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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