Guide for relocation to Steamboat Springs, CO

Culture & Arts

Chief theatre going strong

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 2.30.36 PMJust three years into its resurrection as a performing arts and cultural venue, downtown’s Chief Theater continues to bolster the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Steamboat Springs.

The movie theater, built in 1926, was purchased by the nonprofit Friends of the Chief for $1.45 million in October 2012 and opened its doors to the main theater in May 2013. Executive Director Scott Parker has since taken the reins and galloped to a string of successes, including sold-out shows by such musicians such as the Wood Brothers, Uncle Lucius, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder John McEuen, Tony Furtado and Todd Park Mohr, of Big Head Todd and the Monsters.

The theater also has caught on with other touring musicians, community drama, documentary screenings and shows by musicians in residence. Parker estimates that more than 10,000 people came through the 135-seat theater’s doors last winter alone.

“One of my goals is to be there for every facet of the community, from the Arts Council’s annual Cabaret to other local productions and world-class music acts. Our films have also been hugely successful.”

A number of shows have been sold out, illustrating the pent-up need for such a performing arts venue all the more.

“It’s truly something that people needed here,” Friends of the Chief board President Alice Klauzer says. “The key to its success has been its great diversity of events.”

New leadership for Strings Music Festival

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The award-winning Strings Music Festival, a nationally recognized venue and music festival offering classical and contemporary programming, has new leadership taking it into the next decade.

Housed in the 6.5-acre Strings Festival Park, the Festival welcomes Michael Sachs, an internationally renowned musician and principal trumpet player for the Cleveland Orchestra, as its new music director, taking over from longtime co-directors Andres Cardenes and Monique Mead. In addition, longtime executive director Kay Clagett has stepped down and will be replaced by Elissa Greene, Strings’ former director of artistic administration, education and technology.

Sachs plans to build on the current success of Strings, which, with an annual $2 million budget, brings in everyone from such classical superstars as Joshua Bell and Menahem Pressler to jazz virtuosos like Chris Botti and Wynton Marsalis and rock legends such as America and Vince Gill.

Strings-KayandElissaTomRossLast year under Clagett, Strings saw more than 25,000 people attend 60 concerts, 35 percent of which were free to the public. It also hosted seven $1 admission youth concerts, eight free Music on the Green concerts at the Yampa River Botanic Park, and Strings School Days, the organization’s flagship education program which has seen 25,000 participants in its eight years.

“Strings has all the ingredients for a very successful festival,” says Sachs, whose wife, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, has also played at its award-winning venue. “Steamboat is a special place and it’s amazing to have this type of music facility here.” Adds Greene: “Strings Music Festival has grown over the past 28 years from a small summer chamber music festival to a world-class year-round performing arts organization. I’m proud of the work we have done and I look forward to the next chapter.”

Eating local

CAA-FranzCall Steamboat home and you’ll findit easy to eat healthy as well as live healthy. The Community Agriculture Alliance (CAA) has been promoting local agriculture efforts in the Yampa Valley since 1999, including those to grow and distribute food locally.

Among other things, one of the ways it does this is through its new Farm to Fork online marketplace, a web-based ordering and delivery solution connecting local food producers with local consumers. Local producers include bakers, herb growers, soap makers, coffee roasters, produce farmers, locally raised meat producers and more.

“Part of our mission is to connect local producers and consumers and this is a great way to meet that objective,” says CAA’s Michele Meyer, whose organization also brings local farms together to sell produce at the weekly Farmers Market in the summer and supports the state’s Colorado Proud campaign.

A round-up of Steamboat’s cultural scene


The arts are alive and kicking up their heels in Steamboat Springs. Consider the line-up:

The Steamboat Springs Arts Council Established in 1972, the nonprofit Arts Council produces art and cultural events and serves as an adviser and advocate for more than 30 affiliated organizations. Housed in the historic train depot along the Yampa River (1001 13th St.), the Arts Council manages the Eleanor Bliss Center for the Arts at the Depot, which encompasses two galleries and a community resource center for arts and cultural information. Info: 970-879-9008,

Fine Art More than 17 art galleries are located downtown and near the base of the ski area. Some feature nationally renowned artists while others showcase regional and local visual artists. The Steamboat Art Museum and the Depot also host exhibits. Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp Founded in 1913, the nation’s oldest operating performing arts camp offers summer programs taught by an international faculty in dance, theater, musical theater, dramatic writing and equitation for ages 8 through college. Master workshops for adults also are offered. Perry-Mansfield presents performances throughout summer. Info: 970-879-5823,

Tread of Pioneers Museum The Tread of Pioneers Museum recently completed an expansion and remodel, further allowing it to showcase and celebrate the Yampa Valley’s rich and diverse heritage, from Native Americans to Olympic skiers. Info: 970-879-2214, Emerald City Opera Emerald City Opera brings artists from the world’s great opera houses to Steamboat to collaborate with local artists. Additionally, ECO presents the Resident Artists Spotlight and Outstanding Artists concert series throughout the year. Info: 970.879-1996,

Free Summer Concert Series The Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series brings in great national acts throughout the summer at the base of Howelsen Hill downtown. The events are free and fun for the whole family, offering food, music, libations and more. Recent acts have included everyone from Ziggy Marley to Uncle Lucius, the Infamous Stringdusters, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and more. “It’s a great tradition in the summertime here,” says series president Coleman Cook. “It reaches a broad cross section of music lovers and is one of the best venues in the state.” Info:

Strings Music Festival Strings produces summer and winter music series featuring classical and contemporary artists, with performances held in the Strings Music Pavilion. Info: 970-879-5056,

Steamboat Stage As part of its $10 million base area improvement, Steamboat Ski Area recently completed a new concert and other performance stage at the base of the resort, inaugurating it this past summer with a free concert line-up. Info: 970-879-6111,

Yampa River Botanic Park The city-owned, six-acre Yampa River Botanic Park, located off the bike path and river downtown, contains ponds, berms and over 40 gardens It’s a feast for the eyes, nose and ears, thanks to free Music on the Green concerts held throughout the summer. Info: 970-879-4300,

Chief Theater The newly remodeled Chief Theater at 813 Lincoln Ave. downtown is a community cultural center that will eventually include one main auditorium with 350 seats, an additional 115 balcony seats, and removable slanted flooring that can accommodate 200 more guests. Info: 970-871-4791

First Friday Art Walk Art venues and supporting businesses extend their hours the first Friday of each month to showcase visual and performing artists. Appetizers and refreshments are served. Info: 970-879-9008,

Sister Cities Steamboat Springs has two sister cities: Saas Fee, Switzerland, and San Martin de los Andes, Argentina.

Steamboat Symphony Orchestra Steamboat boasts a professional orchestra that performs throughout the fall and winter months, under the direction of conductor Ernest Richardson. Info: 970-870-3223,

Literature Literary Sojourn is the oldest established literary festival in the Rocky Mountains. Nominees and recipients of literary awards, including the National Book Award, the Edgar Award and the Pulitzer Prize, have presented here. Info: 970-879-0240,

Politics The free, nonpartisan Seminars at Steamboat are casual talks with high-caliber experts that focus on domestic and foreign policy, social issues, health, economy, natural resources and the environment. Info: 970-879-1589,

Movies and Music on the Mountain The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. also offers a free concert series year-round at its new stage at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. In the summertime, also look for free movies played on its big screen outside under the stars. Info: (970) 879-6111,

Pro Rodeo Professional rodeo performances are held Friday and Saturday nights from June through August at the Romick Rodeo Arena at Howelsen Hill. Events include bull riding, barrel racing, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, calf scramble, ram scramble and pee-wee barrel racing as part of the PRCA ProRodeo Series. Info: 970-879-1818,

Bud Werner Memorial Library While you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a town by its library. Fortunately, Steamboat Springs has an incredible one in the 33,000-square-foot Bud Werner Memorial Library in the heart of downtown, which recently went through a major $12.5 million renovation making it a true showcase in the state.

Overlooking the Yampa River downtown, the two-floor facility — which received a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council — includes dedicated spaces for children and teenagers, a coffee shop, large community and conference rooms, various artwork, a Library Hall for presentations and more. Carrying more than 88,000 titles, the library also offers 30 public computers, audio books downloadable to MP3 players, self check-out counters, an electronic wand book stocking system, free wireless, access to the library’s database subscriptions and additional cutting-edge features.

Steamboat Springs Community Center The $3.6 million, 8,400-square-foot Steamboat Springs Community Center sits alongside the Yampa River on a 2.3-acre site adjacent to the Stock Bridge Transit Center west of downtown. With easy car, bus and bike access, it was the first building in Northwest Colorado to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and serves as a true meeting place for the community (users include The Routt County Council on Aging, American Legion and more). With a main community room capable of accommodating 382 people, the center is also open to the broader community for wedding receptions, multi-media presentations and more.