State Bridge Lodge now a river resort | VailDaily.com
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State Bridge Lodge now a river resort

Leslie Brefeld
Special to the Daily
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BOND – State Bridge River Resort is more than just the new name for the music venue which abuts the Colorado River, it also invokes the new ownership’s vision for a comprehensive location for live music, lodging and river activities.Crawford Byers, the new talent buyer for State Bridge, visited the venue early last week and said he witnessed a beehive of activity.The whole lodge has been cleaned and repaired and the cabins and yurts have been fixed up, according to the management.Byers said fences, which were on either side of the front entrance of the open-air venue, have been taken down providing greater sightlines to the river.”Now you can eat dinner, listen to music and see the river,” he said.

The upstairs and downstairs bars connected to the outside venue have been renovated. Byers said the windows inside, which had been nailed shut for as long as he could remember, have all been unlatched.”It feels very wide open,” he said.Mitch Garfinkel, owner of the Garfinkels restaurant and Samana bar in Vail, recently bought the venue on the advice of his general manager at Samana, Scott Stoughton.Stoughton toured nationally as a full-time musician, most notably with band Leftover Salmon, and is heading up the management at State Bridge.He said the work they are doing there should take about five years, but the first phase will be 75 percent done by this weekend’s shows.Some of the longer-term projects include putting a general store with a deli and ice cream parlor in the downstairs of the bar and breaking ground for a swimming pool near the cabins.

Stoughton is working on organizing the area’s different activities for an outfitter shop. Visitors will be able to book jeep tours and hunting, fishing and rafting trips in the one location with what Stoughton calls a “wilderness concierge.” The work being done is in an effort to be a seven-day-a-week operation, Stoughton said. Along those lines, the bar’s menu has been expanded. It will still include the burgers it’s had in the past, but will offer a greater selection at breakfast and dinner with some specialties like the Mediterranean sandwich and fish tacos. The upstairs bar will be available to rent for private parties.Stoughton is researching the history of the lodge since its birth in 1890 when the first bridge across the Colorado was built.”I want to bring back what it was – a really great meeting place in the Old West,” Stoughton said.Teddy Roosevelt first used the main cabin on hunting trips and many of the others were built as a part of works programs during the Depression. Stoughton said it was the first stagecoach stop when the railroad came in and was bustling with activity.Another change they’re making is when the music begins. Friday and Saturday shows will have an earlier start time of 6:30 p.m. and Sunday shows will kick off at 3:30 p.m.

“People get out there during the day and are so sun-drenched, they want the music to start. They don’t want to wait till bar time.” He continued, “It’s so fun seeing a band’s first set in the afternoon and the second in the evening.”Byers, who is also the talent buyer for Sherpa & Yeti’s in Breckenridge, said, “It’s not like Sherpa’s where we do Lyrics Born or Guru. State Bridge is more reggae and hippie shows, but they’re good shows.”The nearby Bureau of Land Management camping site will remain free and Stoughton hopes to keep it cleaner than it has been in the past.”People have been camping there for 2,000 years,” he said. He plans to put the word out to campers to be your own steward. The lodge will continue their deal with the BLM of providing Porta-Potties and Dumpsters at the campsite.State Bridge’s grand opening will be a three-day party June 2-4.

“I’m really trying to create this vibe next weekend that describes my vision of music and gathering,” Stoughton said. The three-day weekend includes DJ Z-Trip and Little Hercules Friday, Little Hercules Saturday and Shanti Groove and Moonshine Still on Sunday.This weekend Shakedown Street returns for two nights over Memorial Day weekend Saturday and Sunday.Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or lbrefeld@summitdaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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