A whale of a Wintersköl | AspenTimes.com

A whale of a Wintersköl

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s 53rd annual toast to winter begins today, and the schedule of events proves that Wintersköl 2004 is going to be some of the old and some of the new.

Wintersköl began as a celebration in order to give business a boost in Aspen during the slow weeks after the winter holidays. These days, Wintersköl is both a draw for tourists and a weekend full of family oriented events that locals look forward to.

Traditional events from those first Wintersköl celebrations are back this weekend, including Saturday’s canine fashion show at noon at the clock tower alongside Wagner Park, which will be followed by the parade through downtown Aspen at 1 p.m.

“These are things that people remember and associate with Wintersköl,” said Jennifer Albright Carney, Aspen Chamber Resort Association special events director. ACRA produces the Wintersköl activities each year.

Eight-foot cubes of snow are already lined up on Aspen’s pedestrian malls, and teams of snow sculptors will begin carving their creations today at 8 a.m. as part of the annual Wintersculpt competition put on by Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Titles of some off the entries this year include Magic Carpet Ride, Bonsai Bells and Bona-Fido.

Friday is Highlands Day, and the mountain will continue events in Highlands Village that started last year, like a 9 a.m. sopapilla-eating contest at Iguana’s restaurant, a plaza party beginning at 12:30 p.m. and an apres party from 3-6 p.m.

The Wheeler Opera House is once again presenting Gong-Sköl, a campy form of a local talent show on Friday night at 8.

There are lots of new events being added this year for those who think they’ve seen and done it all during Wintersköls past. On Friday at 5:30 p.m. Boogie’s Diner is sponsoring Soup-Sköl, a soup contest that will include soup from Little Annie’s, Iguana’s, Pine Creek Cookhouse, Hickory House and Thunderbowl Cafe.

“Boogie’s came to us with Soup-Sköl, and we’re excited to work with them,” Carney said.

Saturday’s WinterFest on the Cooper Avenue mall in Aspen will include music and entertainment, as well as “Shop-Sköl,” featuring sidewalk sales from local retailers. At the same time, A Taste of Wintersköl will be happening from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aspen’s restaurant row, Hopkins Avenue between Mill and Monarch streets.

One Saturday event that hasn’t been included in local calendars of events is the Wintersköl apres party on Saturday, on the Cooper mall next to the clock tower from 3-8 p.m. Carney said the Haden Gregg band (formerly Starwood) will be playing from 3-6 p.m., and a bluegrass band, Sweet Funny South, will be performing there from 6-8 p.m. A beer garden will be on the mall, and Ink! Coffee will sell cocoa and coffee for everyone else.

Saturday night fireworks on Aspen Mountain begin at 8:15, immediately following a torchlight descent down Fanny Hill at 8. Fireworks from the Smuggler mine will follow the display on Aspen Mountain.

There are uphill and downhill races at Buttermilk and Snowmass on Sunday, along with an apres party with live music at The Cirque on the Snowmass Village mall at 3 p.m.

Carney said a number of local businesses stepped forward this year to sponsor Wintersköl, including Boogie’s Diner, City Market, Rocky Mountain Connections, the Great Western Grog Shop, Orthopaedic Associates of Aspen and Glenwood and Vectra Bank. Prince Bandar bin Sultan is also one of the event’s sponsors. Ink! Coffee is the presenting sponsor.

Back again for the weekend will be the Native Voices Foundation, featuring members of the Ute Tribe to perform a snow dance during Saturday’s parade, organized by Olympians Billy Kidd and Suzy Chaffee, on Sunday at Snowmass’ Fanny Hill the Utes invite the community to join in a gratitude prayer at 11:30 a.m.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]