Aspen Winterskl brings it home and the price is right
ASPEN Winterskl was founded with the idea of giving the local citizenry something to celebrate. The year was 1951, and the idea of Aspen as a winter resort was still taking hold. Back then, following the Christmas rush the ski lifts actually closed for several weeks, leaving residents with not much to do, and plenty of time to do it. So Jack DePagter, a lodge owner and Hotel Jerome bartender, came up with the idea of a series of events to keep the locals entertained, and maybe draw a few tourists to town.Fifty-seven years later, Winterskl is still giving Aspenites reason to celebrate, and once again, the mid-winter festival is appropriate to the times. While now there is no shortage of ways to entertain ourselves, there is, perhaps, a shortage of funds to do so. Enter Winterskl 2009, the cut-rate way to enjoy yourself these next few days.Winterskl is all about the spirit of community, said Jennifer Albright Carney, the vice president of event marketing for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which presents Winterskl. We feel the more people who can enjoy the events, the better. We try to continue that tradition of keeping a lot of events free.Want something for nothing? The valleys best comedians are giving it away at the Wheeler Opera House on Friday, Jan. 8 (see below for times and more information). In the free music department, local band the Funky Miracle performs at Aspen Highlands Village on Friday afternoon while the James Hyland Band, a country import from Austin, plays a free show on the Cooper Avenue mall on Saturday. You can even hear poetry being read by a professional, published poet, at no cost, as the Aspen Art Museum presents Jeremy Sigler, an editor of Parkett magazine, in a reading Thursday.And while it may be true that there is no free Winterskl lunch the Aspen Chamber Resort Associations traditional kick-off luncheon, Thursday at the St. Regis, costs about $50 there is a free dinner. Soupskl, a beloved recent addition to the Winterskl calendar, will have local restaurants serving up samples of their finest bisques, broths and pottages. Soupskl, featuring two-time champ Clark Church of the Aspen Club, is set for Friday evening on Cooper Avenue and Hunter Street in the downtown core.Even the freshest part of Winterskl 2009 is free. New to the festival is an educational component: Inspired by the United Nations designation of 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy, and in tune with this years Winterskl slogan, Powder Days and Stellar Nights, David Aguilar, director at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, will present two events. The talk, Why Are We Going back to the Moon, is set for Thursday at Paepcke Auditorium. On Saturday night, Jan. 10, Aguilar will set up a telescope in Wagner Park, aimed at the stars and skies, with thematic goodies Mars Bars, Rocket Cookies being handed out with no money being asked in exchange.Also yours, at no charge: Fireworks (Friday in Snowmass; Saturday over Aspen Mountain); the Winterskl Parade (Saturday through downtown Aspen); the Winterskulpt ice-carving competition (beginning Thursday on Aspens pedestrian malls); and more.You can even get some exercise in for free, at the public skate ice-skating session Saturday at the Aspen Recreation Center. Almost free is Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand. The acclaimed Utah country-rock band makes its Aspen debut Friday at the Wheeler Opera House, with a ticket price of just five bucks for locals (local ID required). But considering that the ticket includes a free drink, this is practically better than free. Consider it a wise investment.The following night, Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen continues his Winterskl tradition of filling up the Wheeler with rowdy fans. Tickets are $40.Over at Belly Up Aspen, there seems to be a new Winterskl tradition building: Winterfnk. Thursday, the funk quartet Socialibrium makes its second-ever appearance. The group comprises former members of P-Funk, Primus and Miles Davis band. The next night, the genuine P-Funk itself now billed as George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic brings its big, colorful party to the club. The weekend closes with a two-night stand, Saturday and Sunday, by California reggae-rockers Pepper.And all weekend long, people sporting their official Winterskl button can receive discounts at local shops and email@example.com
THURSDAY Wintersculpt snow-carving competition, begins 8 a.m., on Aspens pedestrian malls (Judging and awards ceremony is Saturday, from 9-10:30 a.m.) Aspen Chamber Resort Association Luncheon, noon, St. Regis Aspen Snowman Building Contest, 3 p.m., Red Brick Center for the Arts Poetry Reading by Jeremy Sigler, 6 p.m., Aspen Art Museum David Aguilar, Why Are We Going Back to the Moon, 5:30 p.m., Paepcke Auditorium Free Comedy Night, 8 p.m., Wheeler Opera House FRIDAY Kidsculpt snow sculpture competition, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Aspen pedestrian malls Mens Health Village, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aspen Gondola Plaza (also, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 10-11) Apple Strudel Downhill, 10:30 a.m., Aspen Highlands Rail Jam, noon, Snowmass Mountain Inside Out Artist Celebration, 2-9 p.m., LivAspenArt, Aspen Highlands Village Soupskl, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Cooper Avenue and Hunter Street Fireworks, 7 p.m., Snowmass Village Ryan Shupe & the Rubberband, 8 p.m., Wheeler George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, 10 p.m., Belly Up AspenSATURDAY Wintersculpt judging and awards, 9-10:30 a.m., Aspen pedestrian malls Canine Fashion Show, 11 a.m. (registration at 10 a.m.), corner of Cooper Avenue and Galena St. Free Public Skate, 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Aspen Recreation Center Winterfest, featuring the James Hyland Band, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (live music from 1 4 p.m.), Cooper Avenue mall Winterskl Parade, noon, downtown Aspen Aspen Skating Club exhibition, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Aspen Ice Garden Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club Nordic Bonfire Dinner, 6-8 p.m., Aspen Cross Country Center (city golf course) Galileoscope Golden Telescope, 6:30 8:30 p.m., Wagner Park Torchlight Descent, 8:15 p.m., Aspen Mountain Fireworks, 8:30 p.m., over Aspen Mountain Robert Earl Keen, 9 p.m., Wheeler Pepper, with Passafire and Supervillains, 10 p.m., Belly Up AspenSUNDAY Hike for Hope Uphill Race, 7:30 a.m., Buttermilk Pancake Breakfast, 8 a.m., top of Buttermilk The Band Wagon (1953 Fred Astaire musical, followed by Q&A with Aspen musical historian Bob Klineman), 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., Wheeler Pepper, with Passafire and Supervillains, 10 p.m., Belly Up Aspen
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