Audrey Dwyer’s top 6 A&E story picks of 2017 | SteamboatToday.com

Audrey Dwyer’s top 6 A&E story picks of 2017

A group of participants from the SheJumps Alpine Finishing School, a week-long glacier ski mountaineering course held at the Selkirk Backcountry Lodge outside of Revelstoke, British Columbia, each spring.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — No matter the season – the arts and entertainment scene shows no signs of slowing down.

Around every corner stories seem to emerge from week to week. From the Creative District designation by Colorado Creative Industries, the WinterWonderGrass Festival calling Steamboat Springs home, the Steamboat Art Museum opening its doors to a newly expanded space, the inspiring combustion of creatives emerging on Steamboat's arts scene – the list really does go on.

But it's the people that make Steamboat, Steamboat – full of its own ironic quirks.

That said, the following are a few of my top entertaining and inspiring highlights of 2017.

WinterWonderGrass Festival descends upon a (once) snowy ski town (Julia Ben-Asher)

“Since the final day of the inaugural WinterWonderGrass Steamboat last season, I have longed for a return,” said Scott Stoughton, founder of WinterWonderGrass. “We all left the community with new and deep relationships, a vast understanding of the spirit of the people of Steamboat and wide eyes for a long-term partnership."

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“It’s been a year of bragging about how incredibly supportive the entire community of Steamboat Springs has been to us and a year of planning on how we can raise the bar for our new family,” Stoughton added.

The internationally-recognized bluegrass and craft beer festival, which hosts a unique mix of world-class bluegrass on four stages and features more than 25 bluegrass artists and 20 Colorado breweries to Steamboat through four days. Visitors from more than 40 states will be attending.

Steamboat Springs receives Colorado Creative District Designation

It’s official. Steamboat Springs has been selected as one of three communities in Colorado to earn a new Creative District designation from Colorado Creative Industries.

The local Creative District will receive a $10,000 grant that will be used to implement the group’s strategic plan, and Steamboat will also receive special signage from the Colorado Department of Transportation and marketing through the Colorado Office of Tourism.

“We’ve always been a creative community — a community that upholds the arts — but now, we’re recognized by the state for this, and there’s an incredible network that we will have access to,” Keith said. “It’s exciting to realize that Steamboat’s creative sector is being recognized as a critical industry in our community.”

Be on the lookout for: Young Bloods Collective 

There’s excitement, there’s passion and there's a newfound vibrancy happening within Routt County’s creative community – especially in 2018 thanks to the rising nonprofit: Young Bloods Collective (YBC).

“We want to make people see that any mode of what you put back into the world is a creative endeavor, and we want to be able to support that, so you can keep doing it,” says Brie Kole, co-founder and president of Young Bloods Collective, Steamboat’s newest nonprofit.

As part of YBC’s mission, the nonprofit’s purpose is to make art and cultural endeavors more accessible by hosting exhibits, events and workshops throughout the county, and engaging with local businesses and organizations through collaborative partnerships.

“This is truly for our locals, to have resources and opportunities to tap into their own creativity and share that work with our community in a meaningful and purposeful way,” said Kole.

“They know what a Twitter account is; they see the world differently, through different eyes,” says Piknik Theater founder Stuart Handloff. “A collaboration that's creatively, demographically and artistically diverse can only add depth and breadth to the great artistic work we already do.”

Steamboat Art Museum unveils multi-year project

 The culmination of a multi-year project at the Steamboat Art Museum has finally been unveiled with the grand re-opening and showcases the $800,000 extensive renovation project that transformed the 1920 addition of the Rehder Building, which has been home to the art museum for 11 years, into additional exhibit space.

“Walking through here, it brings back those memories,” said SAM Executive Director Betse Grassby.” I remember when the Brandy Wine Restaurant opened in the winter of 1972. It was the coolest restaurant that everybody who was around that time has memories of. It’s even where my husband and I had our first dance at our wedding reception.”

There will also be an art resource library featuring the collection of books donated to the museum and artist workspace. The new space will also be available for the community to rent out for chamber music concerts, rehearsal dinners, events, speakers and more.

The project doubled the museum's exhibition space to about 7,700 square feet, with the ability to showcase up to 200 to 400 pieces at a time, with additional moveable walls allowing for more flexibility in the types of exhibits, as well as the number of pieces the museum can display.

Most memorable adventure of 2017: Canyoneering Zion National Park

"I’m 120 feet in the air, dangling by a rope merely the width of my finger.

Heart racing. Blood pumping. Millions of thoughts racing."

There's nothing quite like canyoneering. The sheer adreline rush of the act, the expansive, endless vistas and the magic of the Zion's desert with Towering walls of turquoise, gem-like, majestic red and orange hues sculpted into wave-like structures, polished by wind and water to a jewel-like sheen.

Each corner of Zion National Park, a new discovery. Sometimes, it may be a narrow sliver of space between adjacent canyon walls or seemingly flung boulders, wedged between a narrow slot. Other times, the path may weave this way and that; the soft curves glow as sun rays pierce the shadowy depths where you stand.

Who knows where 2018 will take me.

Most inspirational story: SheJumps and the arrival of "The Girafficorn"

Daring to accomplish the seemingly impossible, this mantra has becoming the guiding concept of the intrepid tribe of young women known as SheJumps, the all-women, nonprofit organization stoking the fire of ambition and inspiring new outdoor pursuits.

And most times, they're seen in brightly clad colors, ripping down a ski hill in tutus. The symbol they epitomize stands as the "Girafficorns," The half giraffe, half unicorn mythical creature is the logo and symbol of SheJumps, designed by Lynsey Dyer, SheJumps co-founder and professional skier who also produced the first all-female ski movie "Pretty Faces."

The emblem represents "persevering and keeping your head held high above chaos and drama, having your feet on the ground, head in the sky and your magical friends by your side," said Shelley Brook, SheJumps' Rockies regional coordinator.

And in Steamboat Springs, the Girafficorn has made its mark.