Annual Ski Ball Saturday

Event began in 1914

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If the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is the oldest winter festival west of the Mississippi, then it's likely the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Ski Ball is the oldest ski ball at least technically.

The Ski Ball dates back to the very first Winter Carnival in 1914, according to the book "The History of Skiing in Steamboat Springs."

Sometimes three were held every year after the first one began.

In 1938, the Ski Ball turned into a banquet that was catered by El Rancho.

The event stopped altogether in 1967.

Then it was revitalized in 1972, when it was named the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Ski Ball and took on its modern form.

That year, the Ski Ball raised a whopping $2,300.

This year's Ski Ball, which is Saturday at the Steamboat Grand, is expected to clear between $50,000 and $60,000.

"It's the largest fund-raiser that we host," Katy Tirone said.

Tirone is the director of development and special events for the Winter Sports Club.

"The attire for the evening is black tie optional," she said.

That ends up meaning lots of different things to lots of different people, Tirone said.

The Ski Ball features hors d'oeuvres and a three-course dinner, as well as a live and silent auction.

Items on the block include getaways to cottages on the East Coast, the permission to personalize the name of a ski run at the Steamboat Ski Area for a year and tickets for a Broncos game in a luxury box.

In all, there are about 100 items to be auctioned off.

After the auction, a band called Dressed in Black, from Denver, will play music for dancing.

"It's a great event, and we certainly appreciate all the support the local families and businesses give us," Tirone said.

Anyone interested in going to the event has one last chance to buy tickets today before noon.

Usually about 250 people attend, but Tirone said she would take reservations today for anyone who wants to go.

"We definitely want to have a lot of people there," she said.

The ball starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Grand.

Dinner is served at 8 p.m.

For more information, or to make reservations, call 879-0695, ext 116.

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