Steve Jones and John Fisher are doing their part to keep the "cowboy" in Ski Town U.S.A.
Jones and Fisher are the Yampa Valley Boys, a musical duo devoted to cowboy songs, poetry and humorous tales. They were among nearly 50 businesses taking part in the annual activities fair at the Steamboat Grand Hotel this week. The event was hosted by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.
The purpose of the fair is to allow small businesses that depend on tourism to network with one another as well as influential people such as front-desk personnel at lodging companies, taxi drivers and food servers.
The Yampa Valley Boys want to make certain as many people as possible are aware that they can inject an authentic Western flavor into conventions, family gatherings and parties.
"Look, this is why you came out West," Fisher said. "You need to have Western entertainment. We try to avoid the 18 songs you hear every day on the radio."
The Yampa Valley Boys' song list includes recognizable classics such as "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky"; songs from the silver screen such as "Back in the Saddle Again"; traditional songs such as "Darcy Farrow"; and funny stuff such as "I'm my own Grandpa."
"What really works for us is the meet-and-greet session at the start of a convention," Fisher added. "Our music is lively, and it really breaks the ice. We're as comfortable in a group of 15 people as we are at the State Fair."
The booking agent for the Yampa Valley Boys can be reached at 879-4746 or 846-4096. They also perform regularly at Bar Lazy L Family Ranch Sleigh Ride dinners -- call 879-0095.
The Yampa Valley Boys weren't the only purveyors of authentic Cowboy-ana at the Steamboat Grand. Ray Heid, wearing his trademark hat and a dramatic Western coat, was on hand to promote winter horseback rides at Del's Triangle 3 Ranch.
"We haven't missed a day in 18 winters," Heid said. His company picks up clients at the gondola transportation center at 9 a.m. and transports them back about 150 years before returning four hours later. A second group goes out in the afternoon. A two-hour ride costs $65 and includes the use of a genuine pair of leather chaps.
Of course, not all of the businesses at the fair were devoted to the cowboy theme.
Sue Kimes of South Routt reserved a table right near the door to promote her new business, "The Meal Mama."
Kimes, who has been cooking professionally since she was 13, is tapping into the growing trend in Steamboat that has seen lavish second homes equipped with "catering kitchens." Essentially, she arrives at a vacation home or condominium, and while the occupants are out skiing or horseback riding, she prepares a home-cooked meal and leaves it in the refrigerator with detailed instructions for reheating the feast.
She has a complete menu offering appetizers, fresh greens such as "warm goat cheese bistro salad," entrees such as pecan-encrusted salmon with sweet pepper mayo and family-style casseroles. Entree prices range from $15 to $18 per person, and family-style casserole dishes begin at $26.
Kimes loves to cook and knows there are many families who don't have the energy to go out to restaurants every night of their vacation. And at the same time, cooking for a crowd isn't their idea of a vacation.
Her meals are cooked from scratch. For example, when she makes curried chicken salad, she begins by roasting whole fresh chickens, then picks the meat off the bird.
Kimes has time to cook for five households a day before hustling home to Stagecoach to cook for her own family. The Meal Mama can be reached at 734-7908.
The newest restaurant in Steamboat won't open at the corner of Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue until the middle of January. Owner Mike Poirot and his staff were at the fair offering samples of the food that will be available at BeauJo's Mountain Bistro next month. They'll offer the same pizza (Mountain and Prairie Pies) that BeauJo's is known for at its Front Range locations. Customers will order from the chef, watch him begin to prepare the dish, then wait at the table for the chef to deliver it.
In addition, BeauJo's Mountain Bistro will debut grilled Italian sandwiches called Paninis that are new to the regional chain, as well as specialty pastas.
Matt and Lizzie Larock plan to continue hosting the "low-key bluegrass" of the Humble Pickers in the bar at the Old Town Pub and Restaurant throughout the winter. They've had a good response to their early show times (8:45 p.m.) in a smoke-free environment.
The Larocks also are beaming over their recent purchase of their building, which observes its 100th birthday in 2004.
"It worked out that our mortgage payment is slightly less than our rent was," Larock smiled.
Finally, longtime Steamboat resident Lynne Masters was offering complimentary chair massages at the fair to promote her ability to help skiers work the kinks out after a long day on the slopes. Masters has been offering "in-condo" massage for 18 years. Her fee is $85 an hour. She can be booked by calling 846-9119 (when she's skiing, too) or at home at 870-6323.
-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205
or e-mail email@example.com