Warm up with Frisco’s 11th annual Wassail Days
What’s up with Wassail?
An old English Yuletide drink that means “Be healthy,” wassail is a hot, mulled cider. The festive beverage is the center of Frisco’s annual holiday celebration.
When: Nov. 30 to Dec. 9
Where: Frisco Historic Park & Museum, Frisco Adventure Park, Summit County Community and Senior Center and the Frisco Nordic Center.
Cost: Most events are free. The Soup Cup Classic is $30 for adults and $15 for children while breakfast with Santa is $20 for adults and $10 for children. Visit TownOfFrisco.com to purchase tickets, reserve a spot for breakfast, see the schedule and find wassail recipes.
On Friday Frisco fully embraces the holiday season with their yearly Wassail Days event. Along with carolers and visits from St. Nick himself, the 10-day festival features free wassail to drink and fun at the Frisco Adventure Park. At the end participants receive a free mug when they fill out their “12 Sips of Wassail” cards by enjoying the spiced seasonal beverage available at local businesses.
Silverthorne-based artist David Sockrider designed this year’s mug. Featuring an anthropomorphized fox and moose, the design is more of an illustration than those in years past.
“We’re making it something that’s a little more interesting,” said Vanessa Agee, marketing and communications director for Frisco. “We all have cabinets full of mugs and we want to make this one you can keep and hold onto.”
But before the drinking and card stamping can begin, everyone is invited to see the town light up the Frisco Historic Park at 6 p.m. on Friday, with Santa Claus, Summit County Choral Society, fire pits by Fire On Demand, 600 luminaries and a fireworks display leftover from the summer due to the Buffalo Mountain Fire. Additionally, hot cider, mulled wine, cookies and s’mores will be available for purchase to benefit the Family and Intercultural Resource Center’s Summit County Cares program. That night only, completed cards can be exchanged for the mug at the park’s gazebo, Basecamp Wine & Spirits and HighSide Brewing, along with the standard location of the town’s information center.
Yet the festival isn’t just about commemorative drinkware. It’s also a chance for the 65-plus businesses to show off their cooking chops. Each day the stores, restaurants and hotels put on a fresh pot of wassail and try to win over consumers’ votes with their flavors. In 2017 there were over 21,000 samples served.
“That’s what’s pretty exceptional about it,” Agee said. “They make the effort to make their own special wassail every single day. Really, the event exists because of the willingness of the businesses. They’re welcoming and generous.”
There is no panel of judges, rather people place their votes after they’ve sampled at least three different wassails. Up for grabs is a trophy of a hand-blown glass apple and bragging rights. Rivers Clothing Company is the reigning champ, coming in first for four years and second the other times.
“We’re looking to stay on top this year as well,” said Campy Campton, owner of Rivers Clothing Company. Though he won’t reveal what makes his wassail so delectable, Campton says he has never changed the citrusy recipe. It is actually his grandmother’s concoction and a holiday tradition for Campton. “It’s just a good town event that gets everyone geared up for the holidays,” Campton said. “It’s a festive and fun time.”
Wassail Days has a second competition as well. Since 2013 the town has challenged professionals and amateurs alike to serve up the best soup and on Sunday guests can crown the winners. “It started as a chili cook-off in 2011, but people thought it was pretty one-dimensional,” Agee said.
It costs $30 for adults and $15 for children to attend, sample and judge the event from 4–6 p.m. In addition to unlimited tastings, the Soup Cup Classic ticket includes two beers and free tubing. Last year 180 guests tried roughly 18 soups, split evenly between chefs and home cooks. First place prize is $100.
It’s for you
From now through noon on Dec. 4, Santa will be making a list of all of the little boys and girls and checking it twice. A unique part of Wassail Days, Mr. Claus will run down the list and call every child with a tailored message.“It’s a really awesome hometown, personal quality that we want to continue,” Agee said. “It’s really important to us about the event.”
Santa will also be visiting the Frisco Historic Park & Museum on Dec. 1 and 8. Additionally, the community is welcome to attend a breakfast with Santa on the morning of Dec. 8 from 8:30-11. Located at the Summit County Community and Senior Center, the meal costs $20 for adults, $10 for children and proceeds benefit Summit County Preschool. Reservations are required.
Sip and savor
Another highlight of the week is a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at the museum on Dec. 7 from 5–8 p.m. The building will be decked out for the holidays as guests enjoy treats from Food Hedz Catering, beer from HighSide Brewing, music by Nina Storey and a good tale.
Throughout the festivities there is free tubing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and caroling, giving folks plenty of opportunities to explore the town and everything Wassail Days has to offer. Frisco has doubled the amount of commemorative mugs to 5,000, allowing both visitors and locals to fill out the 12 Sips of Wassail card on their own time without rushing.
“There are so few things we do slowly,” Agee said. “We want people to stroll around, taste wassail, take a breath, catch snowflakes on their tongues and just enjoy and savor the season.”
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