Ullr Fest turns 50 in Breckenridge
Ryan Summerlin January 3, 2013
Bikinis. Beers. Big hats.
Sounds like all the staples of a good beach party, right? Well, amend that image: those bikinis are covered in fur; the beers don’t need a cooler to stay chilled; and the monster hats are adorned with horns.
Yes friends, Ullr Fest is upon us. And this year – the festival’s 50th anniversary – should prove to be bigger, better and crazier than ever.
All right, first, let’s do a quick tutorial for all the newbies and visitors (longtime locals, feel free to skip ahead, or read on for a quick brush-up). The celebration was started by locals in 1963 to thank Ullr, the Norse god of snow, for Breckenridge’s 300-inch powder average each winter. Local legend has it that Ullr’s travels brought him to Breckenridge from Norway in the 1960s. When the best snowstorms cover our mountains, it’s Ullr – rumored to be a skier of unparalleled skill – who gets the credit.
Besides the history, there are a few more things you need to help celebrate: the correct pronunciation of Ullr – pronounced Oooler, rhymes with ruler – and a good Viking hat, something locals don for all the festivities.
The week kicks off Sunday with the crowning of a new Ullr king and queen, nominated each year by residents. For 2013, the honor goes to locals Dave and Cindy Love.
“Dave and Cindy Love received a lot of nominations for the 2013 Ullr king and queen,” said Sandy Metzger, events director for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber (BRC). “They’re longtime residents of Breckenridge and active members of the community, which is something we look for in every king and queen.”
The Loves’ official coronation will be topped off with live music from the Summit County band, The Luv Brothers, and, for the first few hundred people, free beer. (Yes, free.)
The centerpiece of Ullr Fest has always been the parade. For those who’ve never been, look it up on YouTube. A rowdy, Ullr-invoking crowd lines Breckenridge’s Main Street as floats carrying locals dressed in full snow gear (or sometimes, barely-there bikinis) and props like ski jumps, hot tubs and toilets parade down the street.
“We’ve seen a lot of really creative floats in the past,” said Rachel Zerowin, BRC spokeswoman.
For this year’s parade on Thursday, the BRC is encouraging folks to step it up even more. Not only in honor of the 50th – although, the prize for best float is amped up to $1,000 – but to show off a little to the folks from the Travel Channel, who will be there to film the sure-to-ensue craziness for its show, “Edge of America.” The night is topped off with a town bonfire and fireworks.
Of course, other events spread throughout the week are by no means boring.
Monday is family night, with snowshoeing, ice skating and a bonfire at the Gold Run Nordic Center.
There’s the Ullympics on Tuesday, full of zany events like the frying pan toss, group ski racing and ski boot relay. On Wednesday, singles ages 21 and up can seek out a soulmate at the Ullr Dating Game. On Friday, Jan. 11, laugh it up with comedians Marc Ryan and Troy Walker. The celebration closes out on Saturday, Jan. 12 with a pond hockey tournament and Viking-themed costume contest.
Info – Visit www.UllrFest.com for event updates and more info.