Bonfire dinner marks 30 years in Aspen/Snowmass
An event that has its roots in Snowmass Village is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week.
The Nordic Bonfire Dinner started in 1985 as a fundraiser for the newly created Aspen Snowmass Nordic Council. The first few years, the progressive dinner was held on both the Aspen and Snowmass golf courses, with various valley restaurants serving food to Nordic skiers at bonfires scattered over the courses.
Now in its 30th year, the event is much the same, except that since the mid-1990s it has been a fundraiser for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.
“They have more of a need,” said event founder and U.S. Nordic Ski Team member Craig Ward. “It’s also a good event for all the kids to help out with.”
And while Snowmass is no longer a host site for the dinner, it is the primary annual fundraiser for the AVSC Nordic program, which 160 kids from Glenwood Springs to Aspen participate in. Because the Nordic program’s fees are so much lower than the others in AVSC, the bonfire dinner is key to supporting the Nordic coaches and staff as well as expenses for traveling competitors, said director Maria Stuber.
“We wouldn’t function without it,” Stuber said.
Tons of restaurants from up and down the valley donate food for the bonfire stations, Stuber said, including some from Snowmass like the Stew Pot, which has participated since the inaugural event.
Skiers who wish to join the dinner can buy tickets day-of or ahead at the AVSC Clubhouse or online at http://www.teamavsc.org.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Owl Creek Chase, a 21-kilometer classic and skate race from Snowmass Village to Aspen. Although the race, also founded by the Nordic Council, has followed different courses throughout its history, it has always connected the two upvalley towns.
The Owl Creek Chase is now part of the Aspen Nordic Festival, which this year is Feb. 14-15. AVSC is also hosting the final Rocky Mountain Nordic Race of the season for under-8 to under-20 athletes, attended by middle and high school teams from Boulder to Gunnison, during the festival.
There is also a community barbecue at 11 a.m. Feb. 8 at the AVSC Clubhouse.
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Ropers, riders, wranglers and revelers are back in Snowmass Village this summer with the return of the Snowmass Rodeo starting this Wednesday through Aug. 18.