High in the Rockies | AspenTimes.com

High in the Rockies

Jill Beathard | Snowmass Sun
The annual Snowmass Balloon Festival runs Friday through Sunday in Snowmass Village, with events in Snowmass Town Park and on Fanny Hill.
Courtesy photo |

For the past three years, local businessman Reed Lewis has been commissioning artists to design posters in honor of the Snowmass Balloon Festival.

This year, for the festival’s 40th anniversary, Lewis tracked down Justin Helton, a highly sought after graphic designer who has created posters for some of the biggest names and festivals in the music industry. Lewis has collected Helton’s posters in the past and came across them most recently this summer going to shows in Grateful Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” tour.

Helton’s designs were used by the tour more often than any other artist’s, which he called a “big honor.”

“The Grateful Dead not only got me into various types of music but showed me what concert posters were,” Helton said. “When I was younger their history of having screenprinted posters made got me into the whole idea of doing that.”

Helton has made a career out of designing materials for bands, festivals, events and corporate brands. People, such as a woman who walked into Lewis’ Daly Bottle Shop this week, recognize his work, Lewis said.

“He’s gotten so much press and so much positive feedback, and so for him to take the time to do something for Snowmass was really, really neat,” Lewis said.

Helton’s screenprinted designs blend typography and imagery.

“They’re very rooted in like this Victorian- era design, very ornate typography and lots of details,” he said. “What I do is some of it is by hand, some of it does come from old Victorian illustrations, just bits and pieces of different things come together in one design. There’s definitely a lot of different elements that go into what I do.”

For the T-shirts, sweatshirts and posters that Lewis is selling out of 81615 and Daly Bottle Shop, Helton started with a balloon designed after one of the originals in the festival. He incorporated the mountains around the village and some other elements that he says “gave it some movement, some whimsical growth” around the central balloon.

“It’s been really well-received so far,” Lewis said. “It’s so special, and I think people will actually be framing them. I’ve had a hotel ask if they could get one for their lobby.”

The shirts and posters will be on sale at Lewis’ shops as well as at the Balloon Festival itself.

Celebrating 40 years

Thirty-four pilots will be on hand for this year’s festival, said balloonmeister Colleen Johnson. Begun when pilot Chauncey Dunn launched three balloons from downtown Aspen, the festival moved to Snowmass in 1976 with events in both the summer and winter, according to Snowmass Tourism.

Soon the festival became summer- only and moved to the Snowmass Club golf course, but after the course’s renovation in 2004, it moved to the town softball fields, which are still its home base today. Morning launches and games are still held there each day of the festival.

For the past three years, however, the popular Night Glow event has been held on Fanny Hill. Pilots light their flames, turning their balloons into larger-than-life lanterns that dot the hillside within view of village restaurants, while entertainment is provided in Base Village.

In addition, the Snowmass Wine Festival, a Snowmass Village Rotary Club fundraiser, has a dinner on Sept. 19 and a tasting on Sept. 20. The Motoring Classic at Aspen/Snowmass, a new classic car show, will take place during the wine tasting on the town soccer field.

Balloon Festival events are free and open to the public. Tickets for Wine Festival events are available at http://www.snowmasswinefestival.com.


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