Aspen’s Best: Others |

Aspen’s Best: Others

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

Jazz Aspen Snowmass had a monster year, with appearances by Widespread Panic, Bob Dylan, Ziggy Marley and many others. So even in a valley with plenty of competition, Jazz Aspen took an overwhelming 24 votes. The question is: Will voters embrace the new-look, 2009 version of Jazz Aspen, with a reformatted June Festival and a Labor Day Festival that is stripped down to three days? (Answer: Most likely.) The only event to come close this year was the Celebrity Downhill, the annual fundraiser for Aspen Youth Experience, which took a surprising (box-stuffing?) 18 votes. Among those in a tie for third was the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brewfest, proof that live music and Snowmass Village are an attractive combination.

This category always gives us fits, but its always a good contest and something of a barometer for the reasons we love this place.In the past, the people has always been a contender, in addition to the mountains. Readers express these thoughts using a variety of words; we take community, friends and locals to mean roughly the same thing people and the same goes for words like skiing, fresh air, the outdoors and wilderness. Those words all refer to living in the mountains.So, while admitting that counting the votes in this category is a somewhat squirrely process, well announce that people and mountains tied with 17 votes each.Other responses included five votes for Winterskl, Aspens mid-winter festival; four votes for Carbondales annual summer bash, Mountain Fair; the Aspen Highlands closing party; Halloween, and a handful of others.We especially liked the one vote for Coming Home. Driving or flying back into the Roaring Fork Valley after a visit somewhere else usually against the overwhelming tide of travelers is always a shot in the arm.

Well, Powder Day is again the undisputed king of this category. The voting was so lopsided that its tempting to simply stop the madness and eliminate the category for being unnecessarily obvious.On the other hand, Aspen is a ski town and this is one way of ensuring that at least a portion of Aspens soul remains devoted to the mountains, as opposed to greed, jewelry and real estate.So, all hail the powder day, still a guiding principle for our fair town.There were no other real contenders for this title, but Food & Wine (the festival, we assume) garnered four votes, hung over got three and blue skies two.One reader suggested sick, although we question whether thats really the best excuse to skip work. One happy slacker said feel too good, and another poor soul said my dog threw up in my hair.

Well, we hope and expect that local news stories will lead this category, and usually they do. But in 2008, president-elect Barack Obama was the story, in Aspen and across the country, that engaged readers all year long. Obama visited Aspen in July 2005, but the closest he came in 2008 was a campaign stop in Grand Junction. Of course, there was also the inaugural speech at Invesco Field in Denver and Colorados swing-state role in the election, which arguably made the presidential race a regional, if not local, news story.Whatever the case, Obama won this category handily, just as he won votes from 75 percent of Pitkin County voters.Runners-up included the Burlingame housing controversy and our personal favorite, the SNOW that blanketed the mountains and delighted skiers throughout the first half of 2008.Bad economy and real estate agents feeling the pinch were just two ways in which readers registered the ongoing economic downturn. The Lift One Master Plan also received votes. Bernie Madoff, whose alleged Ponzi scheme had a painful local impact, got votes, as did cyclist Lance Armstrongs move to Aspen and simultaneous return to competition.Several other local stories received votes, although they hardly seemed like show-stoppers to us. Holiday House rising from the ashes and Mayors bike stolen and returned were nice, but story of the year?Lastly, sheriffs election was clearly a Hail-Mary guess, because the last such contest in Pitkin County occurred in 2006.

One thing about Aspen it does not sit still, it does not wait idly by, it will never turn into a ghost town or museum. Aspen is dynamic, ever-changing, even restless. We dont always like the changes, but this place is never boring.Which is why we like to ask this question. And we were happy to see it elicit 30 different responses this year too many to reprint here.The winner was the new Maroon Creek Bridge/Bus lanes. The completion of this Highway 82 project has succeeded to some degree in loosening the traffic jam at the entrance to Aspen, and ended years of construction and orange road cones west of town. Apparently readers like the end result.Other vote-getters included the reopened Ajax Tavern (six votes), the Aspen Brewing Co. (three votes), liquor sales on Sundays (2), hybrid buses (2), One-way Galena St. (2) and more coffee shops (2).Two political junkies voted for The Red Ants, a reference to activist Marilyn Marks efforts to change the way things are done at Aspen City Hall. Three cynics said none, and another said Grrr dont get me going.And one optimist hoped Dogs allowed on buses (potential).

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