Mixer draws hungry crowd in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Mixer draws hungry crowd in Steamboat

Chamber event brings together businesses for networking

Patrick Meyer, of Rocky Mountain Ventures, shows off an ice-climbing boot with crampons during the Chamber’s Winter Activity Mixer at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort on Wednesday.

Patrick Meyer, of Rocky Mountain Ventures, shows off an ice-climbing boot with crampons during the Chamber's Winter Activity Mixer at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort on Wednesday.
Tom Ross

— The economy may be stuck in neutral and consumer confidence might be at a low ebb, but you couldn't tell it from the mood of more than 360 people who packed into the Sheraton Steam­boat Resort Grand Ball­room for the Chamber's annual Winter Activity Mixer on Wednesday.

So many of the 73 vendor booths were occupied by restaurants offering generous free samples that the event could have been renamed Foodapalooza. The fare ranged from fast-food gourmet at Spostas Sushi to top-shelf sausages at The Hungry Dog. The former operates out of the back door of the Old West Steak House, and Brad Somers puts out his Vienna-style beef hot dogs from a kiosk at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street. Many of Steamboat's best full-service restaurants also were represented.

However, the original purpose of the mixer was to allow public transportation drivers, ski lodge front desk workers and hotel concierges to network with businesses that exist to broaden the experiences of winter vacationers. And there was plenty of that happening, too.

Patrick Meyer, of Rocky Mountain Ventures, was bringing Sheraton concierge Carly Gmeiner up to date on his ice-climbing operation that takes adventurous visitors to frozen Fish Creek Falls.

"I see a lot of father/son interest in this," Gmeiner said.

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Meyer even said he saw a spike in sign-ups from fit men in their 70s after the movie "The Bucket List" came out.

Steamboat Grand concierge Karen Drake was impressed with the rate card for scenic sleigh rides with Lazy G Ranch Cowboy Adventures. Owner Dave Golonka, whose family raises natural beef near Craig, is offering sleigh rides for the first time on the Stanko Ranch about three miles west of Steamboat. By eliminating the family style dinner from his excursions, Golonka is able to provide a scenic sleigh ride for $45.

"All the old-timers I talked to thought it would be a good idea," Golonka said.

People who seek an authentic Yampa Valley experience can pitch in and feed hay to the longhorns from the back of a sled for $35.

One of the more expensive outings for winter vacationers is a guided fly-fishing trip on private water with a track record of producing big trout. Bucking Rainbow Outfitters will escort a single angler to a private stretch of the Yampa River at Catamount Tailwaters, all tackle and lunch included, for $350 for a half day and $440 for a full day. Or, two people can book the same outings for $525 or $615, respectively.

"The people who come to Steamboat are still willing to pay for memories," Bucking Rainbow's Jarret Duty said. "We haven't seen a decline. The last three years have been as good as our best year. We thought there might be (a shift) to public water because of the rod fees for private water, but they're still willing to pay for the private water experience."

Finally, if you're pretty certain you'll have grown weary of Christmas carols by Dec. 25, Louise Schum, the manager of the Ghost Ranch Saloon, has a free show for holiday revelers on Christmas night. Forget about Silent Night.

The poster for the show by The Amputaters depicts Santa Claus wielding a bloody axe in front of the chimney after lopping off the head of a doll.

"They're a local punk band," Schum said. "As soon as we got the poster, we're like 'Yes!'"

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com