Sweet 16th: Eagle County packs in events

Nick Urata and Jeanie Schroder, of the Denver-based band DeVotchKa, perform for hundreds at Checkpoint Charlie in Vail Village on Saturday. The concert, part of the series Vail Rocks, was put on to fundraise for the campaign "Get On The List" which registers marrow donors around the country. Over 60,000 marrow donors have been registered resulting in nearly 1,000 potentially life-saving matches, including several from Vail Rocks 2012 and 2013.
Anthony Thornton | |

EAGLE COUNTY — It was the best of days, it was the worst of days.

“It was the gig of my discontent,” said Quill the Clown, with a laugh, from the Flavors of Colorado food festival in Avon Saturday. “I wish I could have just been everywhere and done everything today, there’s so much going on and all the people here were so nice, especially the kids. What a great weekend to be in the Vail Valley.”

Events filled nearly every venue in Eagle County on Saturday, from Ford Park in Vail to Freedom Park in Edwards, from Red Cliff to Rancho Del Rio and everywhere in between.

The only source of frustration present among eventgoers was summed up with one sentence: “I wish I could get to both.”

Those are the words of Susan Fairweather in Avon, who had to choose between Flavors of Colorado and the Studio Tour in Red Cliff. On that end of the county it had to be one of the biggest days of the year for Red Cliff, as the tiny town only hosts a handful of events every year and two of them happened to fall on the same day Saturday, with the Transrockies Run Stage 5 also starting there.

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“We came in from Buenos Aries just for this race,” said Daniela Valdes, who completed Stage 5 with her running partner, Eduardo Pintabona, of team Los Argento. “After seeing how beautiful it was in the summer, now we want to come back for winter.”


Meanwhile, on the complete other side of the county, the Yarmony Grass festival was under way at Rancho Del Rio featuring Bill Nershi, of the String Cheese Incident, among many others.

Local musician and Avon councilman Jake Wolf managed to make it to both Yarmony Grass and Flavors of Colorado Saturday.

“And I hit EdFest in Edwards, I’m heading up to the Soul Music Festival in Beaver Creek right now and going to try to catch Devotchka in Vail before the night’s over, although I’m not sure if I’ll make it,” Wolf said.

Music lovers such as Wolf must have been especially torn, or excited, over all the activity in Eagle County. While the Transrockies Run was ending at the bottom of Gondola One, that area was also the starting point of the annual Vail Rocks event, where hikers make their way up the mountain enjoying music from bands like School of Rock with Mike Peters, Onward Etc. and Devotchka along the way. The hiking portion of the music event ended at the top Gondola One, but the music continued into the streets of Vail this evening.

At the Flavors of Vail festival, local Meghan Russo enjoyed a meal from chefs Chris Thompson, of The Nickel in Denver, and Veronica Morales, of Eat, restaurant in Edwards while seated across from Susan Fairweather, the aforementioned director of economic initiatives in Avon.

Russo said her plans for Saturday were to head into Minturn and catch both the Minturn Market and the 50th annual Eagle Valley Rummage Sale.

“I got to go to the Rummage Sale early to get school supplies for my classroom,” said Russo, a teacher with Stone Creek Charter School in Gypsum. “It was great. I was able to get phonics resources, arts and crafts supplies and organizational stuff. They wouldn’t let me into the areas not related to school supplies, but I did notice a nice pair of boots I plan on coming back for.”

At the Minturn Market, a few vendors weren’t able to make it due to the multitude of events underway. Beaver Taters and High County Chicken were among the noticeable exclusions. Both skipped the Minturn Market in favor of the EdFest craft beer event in Edwards.

“EdFest has been busy,” said Malcolm McCandless, with High Country Chicken, from that event Saturday. “They wanted to keep it southern, so they contacted me about coming here and frying some chicken. It’s been a fun day for sure.”

Ira Solowitz, of Beaver Taters said he’s been really busy over the past few days.

“We did the Beaver Creek Rodeo Thursday night, the Demolition Derby Friday, Ed Fest today and we’ve got the Vail Market tomorrow,” Solowitz said.

EdFest featured beers from more than 60 national, regional and local breweries, but it wasn’t the only place to taste craft beer in town.

Blue Moon Brewing Company’s new Cinnamon Horchata Ale made its Eagle County debut at the Flavors of Colorado festival, which founder Keith Villa welcomed into town personally at the event.

Villa said it’s nice to see an event that pairs food with beer — which is popular in Belgium, where Villa studied brewing — here in Colorado, where he grew up and calls home.

“Beer has carbonation to scrub your pallet, so with each forkful of food your pallet is wiped clean so you can start that flavor process again and again,” he said.


Between good food, craft beer, wonderful art and music, the only thing left to make it a true Vail Valley event weekend was a high-level athletic component, which was underway in Ford Park at the annual Bill Wright Clay Court Championships.

Dazzling the crowd was former U.S. Open competitor Brian Battistone with his patented two-handed racquet and his jumping, volleyball-style serve.

“He is so athletic, no one here could probably return that serve,” said longtime tournament participant Vicky Leleske. “Usually you have to pay money to see this guy play, and he’s here now. It’s very exciting for us.”

Capping off the evening was a comedic performance from Lisa Lampanelli at Beaver Creek and a talk from John Fielder, Colorado’s most renowned nature photographer, at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. The International Mountain Biking Association also hosted a trail building class at Berry Creek in Edwards on Saturday afternoon.

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