Steamboat musicians, revelers take over State Bridge
Several local bands take to the stage at the renovated outdoor venue
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs residents Kate Sender and Jonathan Long sat with their backs against a warm flagstone terrace inside the State Bridge Amphitheatre on Sunday afternoon as the familiar sounds of local band Missed the Boat washed over them.
Around them, hula hoopers twirled on the sand dance floor and the swollen Colorado River rushed past as a crowd of about 100 people — including many Steamboat residents — basked in the ambience of the newly reborn outdoor music venue near Bond.
“I kind of dig it,” Long said. “It’s like a little Steamboat home away from home.”
Long said he’d been coming to the venue long before it burned down in 2007, but it rose from the ashes in a way he never could have imagined.
“I like the redo,” he said. “It’s a hell of a lot nicer than it used to be.”
Sunday brought a Steamboat invasion to the venue, which is about six miles south of the Routt County border on Colorado Highway 131.
Closing out the second weekend of the revamped State Bridge, local bands Missed the Boat and String Board Theory performed along with Eagle bluegrass band Hardscrabble, playing from late afternoon until well after the sun set over the red dirt hills surrounding the amphitheater.
During a break between sets, Missed the Boat harmonica player Peter Hall sat in the grass with several friends and band mates.
“The view from the stage is just as good as the view from the lawn,” Hall said. “It’s fun to see people hula hooping in the sand and just enjoying it. This is just a really cool place.”
The State Bridge aura extends well beyond the wooded fence that surrounds the venue. Several yurts, cabins and teepees are available for rent, and a Bureau of Land Management campground is less than a mile up Trough Road, where several Steamboat residents set up camp for the evening and stoked bonfires long after the music ended for the night.
Sender said she and Long were drawn to State Bridge to open their summer with some of their favorite local Steamboat music.
Missed the Boat and String Board Theory “are awesome local bands … and it’s such a beautiful place,” Sender said. “There’s really nice people and really nice camping.”
Inside the venue, the guests treated themselves to Colorado-brewed beers at the bar and gathered around a large bonfire as the sun went down and the breeze cooled off.
Around the fire, music fans from Routt and Eagle counties bridged the gap between the two valleys through a love of music and the outdoors — cooking s’mores and trading stories among new friends.
State Bridge owner Doug Moog bought the venue in 2009, but never thought the project would blossom into a state-of-the art recreation and music facility with plans for further expansion.
“People are walking around with stunned expressions telling me it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen. My amazement meter got saturated,” said Moog, standing on the porch of Yurt 1, which he calls a temporary home. From his deck, he had a view of the stage where String Board Theory had taken over with its laser light show projecting on the sand in front of the stage. “This is perfect; this is so cool tonight. I love these bands.”
To Moog personally, it’s the “most amazing venue in the entire universe,” and to many guests over the weekend it was like being a kid at summer camp — minus the counselors.
As the band packed its equipment into a trailer to head back to Steamboat, Missed the Boat guitarist Ryan Cox said they couldn’t wait to return the weekend of July 4 to perform at the annual Realm of Music Festival.
“It’s great to have the Steamboat crew come and rally at State Bridge,” Cox said. “I think everyone who was here today would agree it’s a special place with a good vibe.”
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com
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