Ullr Fest raises $16k for CAIC
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MILLER RANCH — Parties are like people, some are just destined for greater things.
The Hanagans’ friendly neighborhood gathering known as Ullr Fest is one of those parties.
Now six years into the annual October event, the couple is having a moment that might be something like what Oprah Winfrey felt that day she was chatting with a friend and thought “there could be more to this.”
On Oct. 24, 430 people showed up to Sean and Kelly Hanagan’s house and raised $16,000 for The Colorado Avalanche Information Center in less than 8 hours.
It was a word-of-mouth event, if by mouth, you mean Facebook, and event, you mean fundraiser/mug sliding competition/celebration of the upcoming ski season. But if you did happen to hear about it from actual words coming out of a mouth, you may have heard it described as the type of party you’d expect to find at a big bar and restaurant in town or a local park. And you may have been surprised to learn it takes place in the collective front yards of Hanagan and about eight of his neighbors.
“The neighborhood has been really great about supporting us for all these years,” Hanagan said. “But it’s grown so much, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to keep it in our front yards.”
BUY THE GLASS
A neighborhood party in someone’s front yard might not sound like the type of venue you would expect to find Bonfire Brewery sponsoring full-on with a 3-person staff.
But Josh Pipkin with Bonfire says on the contrary, the Ullr Fest is exactly their scene. And like an actual Bonfire, people were gravitating toward their tent with their Ullr Fest mugs, part of the package guests received after donating $25 to the CAIC. Also part of that package was barbecue from Southern Spoonful.
Travis Siemer with Southern Spoonful summed up the party in simple terms:
“Buy the glass, save your ass,” he said.
That succinct description of the event is directed at backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers who use CAIC’s avalanche forecasting to determine where, or where not, to ride that day. But the CAIA also does a lot for resorts in Colorado as ski patrols across the state make their morning determination of what areas to consider for diamante bombing that day. They also put on programs to educate kids about avalanche awareness and safety.
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The director of the CAIC’s fundraising arm, Aaron Carlson, had a tent set up in the Hanagans neighbor’s yard, selling CAIC gear. About halfway into the event he knew this year’s Ullr Fest was likely going to be the biggest fundraiser yet for the annual fall party.
“Our record before this year was $11,500,” he said. “And I can see we’ll likely surpass that this year.”
‘PRAYING TO THE SNOW GODS’
Bishop Bindings, a telemark ski binding company from Edwards, and Weston Snowboards of Minturn, which now makes skis, were also on hand at the event and donated gear and prizes.
Mason Davey with Weston said it was important to their company to support Ullr Fest with prizes (they donated more than $2,000 worth of product) because it’s the only event in Eagle County which raises money for CAIC.
“We create a product that gets people out into the terrain that CAIC forecasts, to be part of an event that gives back to them is really a way to give back to our customers and keep our customers safe,” he said.
“Also, we’re praying to the snow gods here,” he added in reference to Ullr, the event’s namesake. “We need it to snow.”
Carlson said the Hanagans spirit, and their ability to throw an amazing party, have become contagious.
“I get people talking to me about it year ‘round, like ‘when is the next Ullr Fest?’” Carlson said. “Sean and Kelly pour their heart and soul into this event … and it’s really amazing to see how much time and energy they put in to bring this community together.”