Last summer, Steamboat held its breath when most of our annual events, some that have been held for over 100 years, got canceled or went virtual because of Covid-19 restrictions. This summer, as those restrictions begin to loosen, many of our favorite events are back and, we can finally breathe again. And after the year we had last year, there’s so much to celebrate.

“Obviously, the pandemic had a huge impact on the entire world, but when we look at how different types of athletic, cultural, and artistic events weren’t able to take place last year, that was very difficult on our community,” says Laura Soard, Marketing Director for Steamboat Springs Resort Chamber. “We’re so excited to see many of our favorite events return this summer.” On May 18th, Routt County rescinded the local Public Health Order, and masks are no longer required in most indoor spaces (though individual businesses and organizations may still require masks and other health safety protocol). While event organizers are still erring on the side of caution, we may see something that resembles normalcy. Here’s a breakdown of what events you can expect to find this summer and what they’ll look like.

Photo credit: Moving Mountains

The Steamboat Marathon: June 6, 2021

The return of the Steamboat Marathon is both a thrill and a relief for Steamboat’s hardcore running community, especially on the year of its 40th anniversary. “Last year was the first time in 39 years we didn’t host the marathon,” says Soard. “It’s been run every year since 1981. It was really disappointing, but we’re so excited to bring it back this year.” What it will look like: The half marathon, which is the most popular, will be virtual, while the 26.2-mile marathon and 10k races will be in-person. Even though the race is nearly sold out, runners also have the option of registering to participate in the virtual challenge to run a route wherever they are in the world. “This is the first time we’re doing a hybrid event for the marathon, but we have runners coming from all 50 states, so we wanted to make these decisions in advance and make sure it was safe for everyone,” says Soard. “We’re really excited to have the other two events in person this year.” To celebrate the 40th anniversary, race organizers are playing up the ‘80s theme with a live band performance from The Goonies and a contest for who dons the best ‘80s attire. “We were so disappointed not to have it last year; it’s one of our biggest events,” says Soard. “We are looking forward to bringing people back together.”//

Photo credit: SBT GRVL

SBT GRVL: August 15, 2021

This young but super-popular gravel bike race is back—that’s “Steamboat Gravel” to those of you who still like to use vowels—after last year’s virtual format. The race features four courses from expert to beginner, so riders can choose from 142 miles, 105 miles, 64 miles, and 37 miles. People from all over the world waited, braced at their keyboards, for the chance to register online for the in-person ride this year—the event sold out in 10 minutes. “It’s a highly anticipated event and is one of the premier gravel cycling events in the country,” says Soard. Gravel biking is one of the fastest-growing categories in the sport, and Routt County has become one of its most coveted destinations because of the extensive network of gravel and dirt roads that connect the Yampa Valley’s vast ranchlands. “It’s a nice connection between the ranching and athlete communities,” says Soard. “Bringing people together makes it a unique event.”//

Steamboat Pro Rodeo: July 1 – August 28, 2021

Last summer was the first time in 117 years that Steamboat didn’t host the pro rodeo series, a deep-seated tradition that is embedded in the town’s identity. “It’s a tradition that differentiates Steamboat from all other resort towns in Colorado,” rodeo announcer John Shipley told the Steamboat Pilot. The good news is, the Rodeo is back for the 2021 season with 10 rodeos and 20 performances over nine weeks. The festivities will kick off July 1 and 2, 2021, followed by the 117th Cowboys Roundup Days on July 2 and 4. “This is an event that defines the fabric of our community, and we are so excited to have it back,” says Soard. Ticketing and registration will move to an electronic format to eliminate interaction on the day of the events. The City, County, and Health Department are working to make sure the event is held in the safest possible way, and updates are ongoing. Check the website for the latest details. //  

Photo: Chee-Yun, Violin Soloist – Strings Music Festival

Live Music: Ongoing

“The return of concerts is something a lot of people are really looking forward to,” says Soard. After a year of mostly virtual events, Strings Music Festival is back with a complete lineup of ticketed performances at the Strings Music Pavilion, Music on the Green Free Concert Series at the Yampa River Botanic Park and on the Strings Outdoor Stage, where concert goers can purchase “concert pods” that “offer parties of four plenty of space to clown around, rain or shine,” as a social distancing measure. For more of a bar/nightclub vibe, head downtown to Schmiggity’s Live Music & Dance Bar offering live music or karaoke almost every night of the week.

Photo Credit: Noah Wetzel, courtesy of the Steamboat Chamber

Art, Food & Culture: Ongoing

From hot air balloons and wine tasting to celebrating cranes (as in birds), a sense of normalcy and togetherness will return this summer with many reasons to get out of the house and come check out the action. Even though the Steamboat Farmers Market did run all last summer, this year promises to be bigger and better as masks are no longer required outdoors. Find out where your food is coming from and peruse other local vendors every Saturday starting June 6, 2021Art in the Park is back after all virtual events last summer and will feature 150 artist vendors, live entertainment, and food on July 10, 2021. Take flight at the Hot Air Balloon RodeoJuly 10-11, 2021 with a series of events that bring color and beauty to the Colorado skies with these incredible aircraft and some of the best pilots from around the country. Wrap up the summer season and head into fall at the Steamboat Food & Wine FestivalSeptember 23-26, 2021, featuring chef dinners, seminars, and of course, more wine tastings than anyone really needs. We’ll cheers to that. //

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