“Oww! I feel good!” That exclamation by James Brown (who visited Steamboat in 1994 for the Christening of his namesake bridge over the Yampa) sums up the pent-up partying angst percolating through town as COVID-19 restrictions slowly ease. With restrictions slowly easing, like flowers a harbinger of spring signs are showing that there’s fun in the air. Here’s a sampling of items to put on your let-your-hair-loose list.
While Steamboat resembled “Footloose” during pandemic protocols, with dancing prohibited at bars, that all could change this summer, with people putting back on their dancing shoes. “It was just like a scene out of that movie, complete with Patrick Swayze,” says Schmiggity’s co-owner Kim Haggarty. “Nobody could dance. A couple snuck up to the stage once and starting moving and everyone was like, ‘Look, they’re dancing!’”
Did You Know? “Footloose” and its fictitious town of Bomont, Utah, was based on the small, religious farming town of Elmore City, Okla., in 1978, where dancing had been banned for 90 years until high school teenagers challenged it to host a prom.
To facilitate gyrating this summer, Schmigg’s has a fast-growing line-up, with karaoke on Tuesdays/Thursdays, solo acoustic acts Mondays/Wednesdays, guitar bar on Sundays, local bands every weekend and more. “The karaoke is super popular, whether or not other people like it,” she says, adding she’s also making plans to add a rooftop deck with bar, outdoor grill and sunshade.
Snowbowl Steamboat, town’s only bowling lanes, is open and distanced—every other lane, for you gutter-throwers—but it’s also ramping up its action outside, putting in turf and a concert stage for Friday music series booked through Schmiggity’s. “It’s a cool venue and we’re psyched to host people outside,” says Snowbowl’s Tony Counts, adding they’re also debuting a new menu with a clean slate—which is what we hope to start with whenever we botch our bowling game.
While you still might not be able to totally press flesh at The Press, you can catch small shows there this summer, including the bluesier-than-blues Brian Smith Band. Pending restrictions, the bar at 1009 Lincoln Ave. will host live acts most weekends, Local Live Music Sundays, open mic comedy shows and more. “We’ll be having some shows for sure,” says manager Ed Andreonni. Bonus: Marcia and Joe’s Jamaican Cuisine.
For those who enjoy libations outdoors, one nice byproduct of the pandemic is City Council’s vote to relax certain liquor laws, allowing businesses to sell take-out alcohol for consumption in certain public areas downtown and on the mountain. Favorite spots downtown include Workman Park at 5th and Yampa downtown, complete with grass and benches by the river; as well as Little Toots Park at 11th and Yampa, complete with a playground for the kids and stone statues of musicians.
Free Summer Concerts
The Steamboat Free Summer Concerts has been presenting free live music in town for 30 years, now housed at the base of Howelsen Hill. A mainstay of summer in Steamboat, it had to cancel its shows in 2020, but is optimistic for a late summer event this season. “We’re hoping to hold another as soon as it’s safe to do so, possibly at reduced capacity,” says board member Scott Fox. Donate at www.keepinitfree.com to help support the organization, with proceeds helping bring free music and good vibes back to the Yampa Valley.
Routt County Fair Beer Garden
Get your dancing and beer-drinking game on at this year’s socially distanced Routt County Fair in Hayden. This year’s FAB-approved Beer Garden schedule includes a bonfire event Thursday, Aug. 19, from 5-10 p.m., with live music (campfire sessions) from Trevor Guire; a Demolition Derby Friday, Aug. 20, from 5-11 p.m., complete with wine and beer contest at 6 p.m.; and a Barn Dance from 8:30 p.m.-midnight on Saturday, Aug. 21, with music from Lendon James and the Hwy 34 Band. routtcountyfair.org
Strings Music Festival
With pandemic restrictions easing, Strings Music Festival announces a summer lineup with more than 40 performances inside and out, with more than 24 ticketed shows and eight free. “We’re ready to begin getting back to the number and variety of performances that we love sharing with this community,” says Executive Director Elissa Greene.
Indoor shows include classical, chamber and small-ensemble music with limited seating at tables of four (with food and beverage options), while a new outdoor stage will feature elevated platforms, or “concert pods,” for up to four people to bring chairs to sit, stand or dance. The outdoor series will be highlighted by Donavon Frankenreiter, Trout Steak Revival, Daniel Rodriguez, Mipso and more. “It will let us host larger concerts safely without sacrificing the audience experience,” says Greene.
Music on the Green also returns to the Yampa River Botanic Park every Wednesday at 10 a.m. from June 30 through August 18.