2016 Year in Review: Arts & entertainment news from Summit County | SummitDaily.com

2016 Year in Review: Arts & entertainment news from Summit County

Editor's note: The Summit Daily is looking back at some of the top stories of 2016. This list is a compilation of our top picks for arts and entertainment stories of the year.

Breckenridge Theater receives $2.55 million upgrade

The Breckenridge Backstage Theatre has undergone plenty of changes since its beginnings in the 1970s with performances in saloons after hours. On June 17, the theater reopened after a $2.55 million renovation that took a little over a year to complete.

With financial support from the town and Breckenridge Creative Arts, the upgrades added more than 3,000 square feet of new construction to the space, bringing it up to a total of around 9,000. Added wing space on the sides of the stage makes it easier to bring set pieces on and off and allows for actors to enter more comfortably, and dressing rooms are substantially larger. A new HVAC system was installed to keep the space at a perfect temperature, and the seating capacity went from 100 to 137.

Cannabis becomes wedding mainstream

As marijuana continues to become more accepted socially, cannabis weddings in Colorado are on the rise. While smoking marijuana at weddings isn't exactly a new concept, businesses have realized the potential money-making opportunities by touting themselves as cannabis-friendly service providers. Summit County company Cultivating Spirits offers cannabis wedding packages, combining services with wedding planners from Breckenridge-based Distinctive Mountain Events.

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"At Cultivating Spirits, we offer sophisticated tours and events, and weddings kind of fit into that sophisticated event," said Philip Wolf, founder of Cultivating Spirits. "We have the experience in the cannabis industry to guide people through the legalities but also show them how to do it in a fun way — how to bring it up to their parents and their grandparents, how to incorporate as little or as much of cannabis as they want to into their event."

New Performing Arts Center to go up in Silverthorne

Silverthorne broke ground on its new Performing Arts Center in June. Announced last year, the Performing Arts Center is a cooperation between the town of Silverthorne and Lake Dillon Theatre Company created to further catalyze a vibrant downtown Silverthorne through arts and culture offerings. The Center is projected to open in March 2017.

Breckenridge hosts 10-day arts festival

Breckenridge Creative Arts closed out its 2016 summer festival season with the second annual Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA). The 10-day multi-arts celebration brought acrobatics, music, dance, film, street theater, art displays and more to the town. Many of the events were free, including the popular Trail Mix series, which placed environmental installations and musicians along the Illinois Creek, Iowa Hill and Moonstone trails.

"This BIFA festival has this sense of adventure and creativity within it, and I felt like that's why people live and visit this place — that sense of adventure, high adrenaline, and creativity and things like that," said Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of BreckCreate, in August.

Breckenridge Brewery maintains identity after beer behemoth buyout

In December 2015, Breckenridge Brewery announced it would join The High End, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB In-Bev) lineup of craft-beer brands. There was much speculation on what effect it would have on Summit County's local brewpub. But according to Jimmy Walker, head brewer at the Breckenridge facility, not a lot changed.

More changed at the production facility located in Littleton, where the company produces a majority of its beer. Walker continues to focus on one-offs, experimentals and pilot batches, and considers himself "the luckiest brewer alive because I rarely make the same beer twice."

Breckenridge earns No. 4 spot on arts vibrancy study

For the second year in a row, Breckenridge ranked No. 4 in an arts vibrancy study released by the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) in April. The Arts Vibrancy Index for 2016 placed the town in the fourth position in the Top 20 vibrant medium and small communities in the U.S. To assess arts vibrancy across the country, the report states that NCAR — out of Southern Methodist University — incorporates four measures under three main rubrics: demand, supply and public support for arts and culture on a per capita basis.

"I think it's really exciting for not only Breckenridge, but it really reflects our county," said Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of Breckenridge Creative Arts, in April. "It's exciting to be recognized for that."

Historic Brown Hotel reopens after renovations

After 10 ½ months and $1.2 million, the historic Brown Hotel and Restaurant re-opened its doors on April 15. The owner followed the town's historic guideline standards for the remodel, using wood from the dilapidated barn that was on the back end of the building. The bar area is still a little crooked, but the floors were redone, the wood was refinished and the bathrooms updated.

With the remodel, management decided to reopen the bar with a focus on live music, offering free shows during the off-season.

Breckenridge Film Fest celebrates 36 years

Since its inception in 1981, the Breckenridge Film Festival (BFF) has continued to evolve and change with the film industry. Founded by locals Meg Lass and Mary Rianoshek, in its earlier days BFF was hosted by renowned film critic Jeffrey Lyons, who helped bring in celebrities, and the first few years were guided with the help of Ron Henderson from the Denver Film Festival.

This year, the festival received 353 submissions. Actor Rex Lee and director Hunter Lee Hughes were in attendance on Friday for their film "Guys Reading Poems." Other filmmakers were in attendance throughout the weekend to present their films and answer questions, including Laura Hoeppner of "Strong Sisters: Elected Women in Colorado," who recently moved to Summit County.

Skijoring lessons offered in Summit

In February, two Summit Daily staff members attached themselves to their large dogs and strapped on skis. Dog trainer Louisa Morrissey offered lessons for beginners at the Frisco Nordic Center, going over equipment, dog care, training and places to skijor.

Skijoring is a 50-50 effort between dog and human, Morrissey said, making it a great sport for both fun and exercise. What works when it comes to the human-dog team is how well the pair are matched and what expectations the owner has.

Sunday is Summit Daily history day

This year the Summit Daily resurrected its Sunday history section, adding a weekly compilation of stories from the Summit County Journal 100 years ago, provided by the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. The Summit Daily has written about Breckenridge's historic district, Bill's Ranch, Summit's "ladies of the night," railroads and more. Go to summitdaily.com to view these stories.