While Snowdown is all about fun, some of the events have a larger purpose.
That's certainly the case for the La Plata Open Space Conservancy, which held its 15th annual Benefactor Wine Tasting & Art Exhibition at the Bank of Colorado on Thursday.
Guests enjoyed a wide variety of appetizers featuring all kinds of interesting goodies (vanilla praline brie en croute, anyone?). Wines donated by Pam and Joe Leder of Durango Liquors and some of their generous distributors were available for sampling and sipping pleasure. The noshing and nipping were accompanied by Josh Grushkin on the keyboard.
Melisa Caskey told me she has greatly enjoyed being the bank's liaison for the event for the last six years, and she is not giving up the task anytime soon.
The uncertainty of the times was evident in both a lower attendance and the reluctance of guests to bid on the live auction items. Those included the original painting, "Crossing the Animas River," selected to be this year's official print by John Cogan, a complete set of prints from all 15 wine tastings and donations of $50 to be used for one acre of conservation easements around the county.
John Dunn and Beth Warren served as able emcees and auctioneers, but this was not a crowd in a mood to spend money.
I have to admit to coveting Sharon Abshagen's "A Good Year for Hay," which was one of the other paintings selected to be part of the event, but, I, too, am watching my pennies this year.
La Plata Open Space Conservancy is the key nonprofit in La Plata County that works to preserve watersheds, agricultural properties, wildlife corridors, scenic and recreational areas and land set aside for nature education in our county. Since its founding in 1992, the organization has preserved more than 21,000 acres through donations, purchases and conservation easements.
Pam Patton greeted me by saying she is Conservation Easement No. 18, which runs along the Pine River in Bayfield. She and her husband, John, granted the easement because they are hoping that 100 years from now, the area along the river will look the same as it does now. Numerous other donors were identified with name tags, so the curious could learn more about how they can protect this place.
I think that's why most of the supporters of the conservancy are involved. They love the landscapes and diversity of this beautiful corner of the world and feel a need to preserve it for the future.
To learn more about the conservancy and its work, visit www.lposc.org.
Enjoying gorgeous spring-like days for their winter birthdays are Karen Overington, Neil McCleery, Bev Graham, Gordon Clouser, Tonya Mulkey, Jim Robertson, Natalie Kirkpatick, Katie Dudley, Bob Gramer, Taylor Sallee, Cindy Donelan, Russell Leidy and Eli Buck.
Special greetings go out to Tom Rebbin, who may be living in North Carolina now, but is still a Durangoan at heart.
In another Snowdown tradition, Charles and Mary Rigby invited me to help judge the Chili Cook-off, which was sponsored by RE/MAX and Tommy Tucker Insurance.
I've written about this event before, and have always spaced out on giving the other judges credit. So this year I'm going to get it right.
Joining me at 10 a.m. Saturday in the La Plata County Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall for salsa, vegetarian chili, green chili and red chili were Marty Lipscomb, Ed and Angie Andersson, Bob Pfeiffer, Tracy Teran, Fred and Jane Zimmerman, Tom Caver, Wardine Lee, Bob Bucher and Mark Simon.
We had our work cut out for us, but the final results confirm that if Jim McVean invites you to his house for chili, you can expect a fine meal. He won first place for salsa, second place for green chili and first place for red chili. That's some mighty fine cooking. (The folks from RSC Equipment Rental and CJ's Bodo also made a good showing.)Second and third place for salsa went to two members of the same family. Giana Deutsch took second and Aaron Deutsch placed third.
For vegetarian chili, RSC Equipment Rental and CJs Bodo took home first place, Amy McClintock and Cindiman Pinneke were awarded second, and Jason Tharp rounded out the winners.
The competition got more fierce in the chili verde competition. RSC Equipment and CJ's Bodo won a second first prize in this category and Greg Wieserman took third.
Red chili is where the heart of the competition takes place. The rules are no fillers, just meat and sauce, but competitors used everything from beer to bison within those guidelines.
The team of RSC Equipment Rental and CJs Bodo won its third award, a second place in red chili, while James Chavez's entry was good for a third place finish.
Everyone's palate is different when it comes to chili, and that was certainly true with this group of judges. Many loved a lone cheese entry in the salsa category, but agreed that it was a chili con queso, not a salsa.
Some entries were love/hate, and there were a few that were just too different for the traditionalists in the crowd.
But it's always fun, and the final treat is a taste of Charles Rigby's green or red chili, which both have won contests at the official national chili cook-off.
Since I began writing the Neighbors column almost nine years ago, the members of Tuesday Literary Club have warmly welcomed me to several of their parties, including fall and spring picnics, Christmas and St. Patrick's Day.
I finally made it to one of the group's actual meetings Jan. 27.
The club gathered at Kate Errett's home (killer key lime pie) for an evening of socializing and literary discussion.
Muriel Mulder was on tap for the book report, which is any book a member wants to share. After doing quite a bit of research about children's books before buying for her grandchildren at Christmas, she had one left over that she read, finding that it worked as well for adults as its intended audience of children. The book was The Underneath by Kathy Upelt. It is about a little pregnant calico cat that was abandoned by its family in the woods. Everyone had a tear in their eye after she finished reading the first page, which described how lonely the cat felt.
The program theme this year is the second decade of the club's existence, 1948 to 1958, and members have approached it from a variety of angles.
Bee Atwood reported on what she called the golden age of the Broadway musical and one of its preeminent stars, Mary Martin. "South Pacific," "Peter Pan" and "Oklahoma" are just a few of the treasures that emerged during this period.
At the first meeting in January, Errett gave the program. She showed her aunt's stamp collection from the 1940s and 1950s, then gave broad strokes about things that happened at the time, including the polio epidemic, invention of antibiotics and the Slinky.
But her real focus was the Korean War. Dwight Eisenhower was elected to the White House on a platform of getting out of the war, and mobile army surgical hospitals were developed, which have saved a lot of lives.
At the meeting I attended, Sue Griffith talked about growing up in that time period and her beloved doll Carol, which was a Toni Doll, named after the home permanent solution. The doll was an advance in dolls with eyes that opened and closed and real hair eyelashes. She was one of the first plastic dolls, using material developed during World War II for aircraft carriers.
Carol attended the meeting, along with many of her outfits. Griffith remembered saving money for the ice-skating costume, which came complete with tiny ice skates. Her mother made a number of outfits for the doll, including several that matched those she made for Griffith herself.
Griffith remembers being in a ballet recital, and her mother making a ballerina dress for Carol.
The program unleashed a host of remembrances by members of the days when girls played for hours with their dolls and mothers sewed for them. Those who have granddaughters said that it doesn't seem to be the same for little girls today, because they have so many toys and a number of other activities to entertain themselves.
Enjoying cozy anniversaries are Doug and Connie Bishop and Clark Lagow and Sandy Newman.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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