Come out and pray

Pray for SnowFest a big hit last year

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— During last year's Pray for SnowFest, Keri Hirsch decided to give away the rest of the T-shirts.

"We just wanted people to feel psyched," said Hirsch, who produced the concert event.

She was selling the shirts at the beginning of the festival, which featured Robert Randolph and the Family Band and lots of door prizes. By the end of the night, the shirts were free.

"If they didn't win anything, we gave them a shirt," she said.

The second annual Pray for SnowFest is scheduled in early December. Though free T-shirts aren't promised, it's still one of those rare events solely about the people and the music. Someone isn't trying to make a bunch of money off the show. In fact, Hirsch really doesn't expect to make any this year. Proceeds from the festival are going to Routt County United Way.

Hirsch is basically in it for the music.

"That's my passion music," she said.

Hirsch is in the process of finding sponsors for Pray for SnowFest. Last year it took a village of businesses to help support the newborn festival, and the same is expected this year. Though no one's in it for the money, it takes money to put on the festival.

Hirsch, a snowboard instructor in the winter, created her own production company, Kdub Productions, which primarily produces Pray for SnowFest. She has ambitions to expand the company to make it profitable; but so far its purpose is to produce a good celebration for the community.

And what better to focus mass energy on in early December than praying for snow?

"It's just a kind of way to praise Mother Earth," she said.

The idea came last year. Hirsch wanted to produce a concert that would be a community event and was looking for the perfect idea. After doing some research, she found out many mountain communities have a Pray for Snow festival. It started in 1972 in White Fish, Mont., when a bunch of locals would bring old ski gear to burn in a bonfire and dance around the flames.

It was perfect. She rented out Levelz for a night, booked a band and started advertising.

There were doubts about the event at first. Booking a big show during the offseason in Steamboat Springs is a hit-or-miss venture.

Then Mother Nature pitched in to the cause. Snow didn't fall in Steamboat until late November, and the opening day of the Steamboat Ski Area was postponed. All of a sudden, Hirsch's Pray for Snow Festival on Nov. 18 had some significance. Locals bought into praying for snow and showed up.

"It was totally successful. We had 380 people in the room," she said. "It seemed like a pretty cool event for new people in town to come see what Steamboat is all about."

The icing on the cake was when it finally snowed on Nov. 22. Hirsch can't promise such positive weather results for Pray for SnowFest 2002, but she did say to expect good music.

Last year was a treat. Landing Robert Randolph to headline the event showed some intuitiveness. At that time, the now well-known pedal steel player hadn't burst onto the scene. Less than a year after that show, Robert Randolph and the Family Band was playing a sold-out show at Red Rocks with String Cheese Incident.

Hirsch hasn't confirmed this year's band but has a line out on a few acts she thinks will be comparable to Randolph.

She's also playing with a few ideas for a location for Pray for SnowFest 2002 and expects to have everything nailed down next week.

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