Longtime locals Bill and Stephanie Tinker crowned 2022 Ullr Fest king and queen
59th annual festival runs Thursday through Saturday
Bill and Stephanie Tinker are your new Ullr king and queen. The couple was crowned Thursday, Dec. 8, before the annual festivities honoring the Norse god began. After the shock wore off, the couple said they are grateful and honored to be selected.
Nominations for king and queen opened in November, and the public could offer the names of friends, coworkers and neighbors who personify the spirit of Ullr and have positively impacted the Breckenridge community with their contributions and commitments.
While the previous king and queen are Barrie Stimson and Signe Rockne-Stimson, and the current royalty are a couple, it is not a requirement that the king and queen are related or have a personal connection to one another.
Bill Tinker and Stephanie Tinker are both originally from New York, but the couple actually met in Denver. The pair moved to Breckenridge in 1971, living in a log cabin in Brown’s Gulch during what Bill Tinker refers to as their “old cabin hippie years.”
That same year, Bill Tinker started All Electric Co. Bill Tinker is now recently retired, but the family business continues to operate with his son, Travis Tinker, and son-in-law, Brian Gard, who is married to their daughter, Heather Gard, who attended Ullr Fest in her mother’s place.
Bill Tinker moved West to be in the Army Reserves and eventually worked at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora. He also lived in Morrison and worked as an electrician, tapping into his roots as a third-generation electrician.
“My father married the boss’s daughter and eventually took over the business,” Bill Tinker said. “I worked with my father from the time I was 17 on.”
The outdoors is also a lifelong passion of his. Bill Tinker said he didn’t apply to any college east of the Mississippi River because of his love of nature. While studying in at The University of Arizona in Tucson, he would hit the trails at Mount Lemmon Ski Valley. His father skied, and growing up they lived next to a golf course that they’d repeatedly hike up and ski down in the winter.
The 77-year-old still uses his electrician knowledge, as he has been involved in the ongoing power line replacement project for Summit Public Radio on Bald Mountain. The nonprofit community broadcasting service offers free FM radio and over-the-air antenna TV transmission.
His community outreach can also be found on the basketball court. Bill Tinker has also spent 30 years as a volunteer coach and referee for Summit-Lake Dillon Optimist Club’s basketball program for elementary school students.
“I love basketball, and I love being with little children,” Bill Tinker said. “It was very, very gratifying to ref all of those years.”
Stephanie Tinker enjoys assisting the public, too. Prior to working for the family business for 10 years, she also worked in the ticket office at Breckenridge Ski Resort for a collective 18 years over the past three decades. Stephanie Tinker has also volunteered at the Summit County Community & Senior Center, providing office assistance and greeting seniors at the front desk.
Naturally, the couple has participated in dozens of Ullr Fest traditions for more than 40 years. Bill Tinker said the royalty used to be chosen simply by filling nominees’ respective jars with money as votes, but now it is a little more formalized with a committee.
In 2001, All Electric Co. even won first place for their parade float. It was designed to be like a massive Viking ship with shields on the side, oars and more — all pulled by a truck that had a miniature village. The scene was blanketed in snow coming out the mouth of a giant Ullr head.
“We put all kinds of jewels and holographic ribbon and stuff all around the ship,” Bill Tinker said.
Being crowned Ullr king and queen is the perfect culmination of their love of Breckenridge.
“It was a real community thing,” Bill Tinker said of past celebrations. “We just had a ball. It was more fun than the Fourth of July.”
Stephanie Tinker’s favorite Ullr Fest tradition chanting “Ullr” over and over, while Bill loves the peppermint schnapps and the bonfire. Bill Tinker joked that he’ll be making some decrees as royalty. Kidding aside, Bill Tinker said he has a new appreciation and gratitude for the behind-the-scenes work to put on Ullr Fest.
“For all those years, I’ve taken for granted that this thing just happens,” Bill Tinker said. “… I had no realization how much effort has been put into these Ullr celebrations. … I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of days.”
Though the embers of the bonfire are dying out, Ullr Fest continues Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10.
On Friday, comedians Jimmy Dun and Alan Bromwell will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave. Tickets are $25 and benefit Carriage House Early Learning Center.
Saturday will have multiple skating events at Stephen C. West Ice Arena, 189 Boreas Pass Road. Ullr’s Ice Skating Party is first at 2:30 p.m. and features free entry and $4 rentals for families who want to get out on the ice. Then people can watch the Winter Ice Skating Show at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10.
Visit UllrFest.com for details.
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