Friends of the Yampa throws biggest party, fundraiser of year

The waters of the Yampa River near the ambulance barn.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s the annual collective call to the snow gods, the encouragement of every future snowflake whose water molecules are still in their liquid form, the welcoming of the winter to come. Local nonprofit Friends of the Yampa is set to throw the Big Snow Bash, the nonprofit’s party of the year, on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Old Town Pub.

“It’s a bash for a big snow year,” said Friends of the Yampa President Kent Vertrees. “We’re hoping to launch it off.”

A $10 donation gets you into the party and gives you the opportunity to win door prizes, including a pair of Scott Cascade skis, a Hala Rival Straight Up paddleboard and more. Local favorite soul-grass group Buffalo Commons will supply tunes all evening, marking their third Big Snow Bash appearance in a row.

“This event brings together such a cross section of the community — young and old, river users or not, people who are community minded and want to be part of something that benefits the greater good,” said Buffalo Commons mandolinist Eric Baker. “The energy is amazing.”

The party is Friends of the Yampa’s most significant annual fundraiser, with all proceeds from the night supporting the organization’s programming. Organizers are shooting to raise $20,000 from the event, which would be about $5,000 more than 2018’s Big Snow Bash fundraising total.

If you go

What: Friends of the Yampa’s Big Snow Bash
When: 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9
Where: Old Town Pub, 600 Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $10 donation at the door

The past year has been a big one for Friends of the Yampa. The organization co-founded the Yampa River Fund with the Nature Conservancy, continued work on the Yampa River Management Plan, hosted several community river cleanup days, continued retree efforts and saw the completion of the Yampa is Wild mural by Jill Bergman and dozens of volunteers and more.

“The Yampa is like an example river for a lot of projects,” said Friends of the Yampa program manager Lindsey Marlow. “It’s great to be at the forefront of a lot of different ideas.

“The momentum (of the organization) is picking up,” she added. “We have a lot of plans for the future.”

Funds raised will support upcoming Friends of the Yampa projects. In addition to increased outreach and more river cleanup and habitat restoration programming, a major development in the group’s coming year will be the start of the Yampa River Camp for teens. The camp will run multiple, three-day trips down the Yampa River throughout the summer, teaching basic raft skills and orientation, water conservation, hydrology and ecology and stories of local water use.

Volunteer Kent Vertrees, who is with Friends of the Yampa, worked to place one of the many panels of the Yampa is Wild mural on the top level of the Steamboat Search and Rescue barn.
John F. Russell

“The goal is to create a curriculum that teaches how to have fun on the river and how to fall in love with the river,” Vertrees said.

Alongside the Big Snow Bash party is a weeklong silent auction that may be accessed at The auction’s 100 items include everything from gear for every kind of mountain and river sport to snowcat trips and kayak lessons; tickets to Strings Music Festival and WinterWonderGrass; gift certificates to dozens of local restaurants and item packages by local breweries; books, photography and crafts by local river enthusiasts; massages and car wash club memberships and hot springs passes and a quarter of a cow. The auction ends at noon Sunday, Nov. 10.

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate the river and to get involved, meet people, and get stoked on a great snow year,” Marlow said.

A sleeping bag, grocery cart and broken skateboard were among the items volunteers found during a recent Yampa River Cleanup in Steamboat Springs. The event was organized by Friends of the Yampa and the city.
Derek Maiolo

Buffalo Commons consistently supports the Big Snow Bash for several reasons.

“We certainly feel (Friend of the Yampa’s) work is really important to the health and vitality to one of the biggest resources we have here in the valley,” Baker said. ”It’s not just about summertime, but winter as well. And to be able to dance, party and support a cause you believe in is a really good time.”

Doors to the Big Snow Bash open at 6 p.m.

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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