Margaret Hair: Getting used to you, finally

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

— A year ago today, I had the following conversation (more or less) with my former boss:

Dennis Gavin, owner of the Skylight Exchange, an illustrious back alley bookstore/record store/sandwich shop: "How was Colorado?"

Margaret Hair, day manager of the Skylight Exchange: "It was big. Also, I'm moving there in two weeks. But I'll hire a replacement. Promise."

Dennis: "Do they get Braves games on TV there?"

Me: "I hope so. Ted Turner is pretty powerful nationwide."

Coming up on my one-year anniversary of loading up the car and heading West for my first legit journalism job, I figured it's as good a time as any to reflect on spending an almost-full year in Steamboat Springs.

Admittedly, I spent the first month or so in Steamboat wondering what had motivated me to come here. I didn't know anyone, I was broke, it started snowing around the third week, and I was still fond of wearing flip-flops everywhere I went. That fashion choice - unfortunately for my toes and general well-being - took longer to work its way out of my system than it did for getting used to Steamboat to work its way in.

A year later, I finally feel comfortable covering arts and entertainment in Routt County. Keep in mind, this is an area of the country I knew nothing about; probably 75 percent of my friends back home had more knowledge of this place (mostly, that it's a ski town) than I did.

In shifting locations from a three-city region of North Carolina (estimated population: 1.3 million) to a small valley in Northwest Colorado (estimated population: 20,000), I didn't expect nearly as much as I found. A well-established arts council, a storied performing arts camp, many bars with live music, a booming downtown gallery scene, several music festivals with big-name draw, a free outdoor concert series, a talented stock of local musicians and arts-learning opportunities from crafts courses to offerings at Colorado Mountain College - only some of these are things we had back home.

And more than being surprised by what I've found, I've been interested to watch those things evolve, as the First Friday ArtWalk has taken shape, venues have come and gone, and the local arts community has solidified beyond what it was a year ago.

It's an exciting time for arts and entertainment in the Yampa Valley, and I'm excited to be writing about it.

Maybe one day, I'll get cable and watch some Braves games to fill my entertainment needs. Until then, free concerts, art openings and an upcoming Strings Music Festival performance by The Avett Brothers (hometown heroes to North Carolina folks) should do the trick.

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204

or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

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