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Monday, August 23, 2010

Viva Sun Valley

For all who listened to the segment on Around the World Radio starring me and Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits, let me shed further and uninterrupted light on the wonders of Sun Valley.

The Sun Valley area encompasses the Sun Valley Resort, the town of Ketchum (the area's "big" city), and Hailey (home of Bruce Willis). Visitors usually spend most of their time in Sun Valley and Ketchum, which are only a mile or so apart (and connected by a free shuttle).

Historic Sun Valley is America's first destination wintertime resort. Shortly after the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics introduced winter sports to the U.S. on a large scale, demand for snowy playgrounds started developing. Millionaire W. Averill Harriman, chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad, sensed this demand while at the same time looking to increase ridership on his trains.
He built the Sun Valley Lodge in 1936, and what was to become the Sun Valley Inn in 1937. The resort's ski mountain housed the world's first chairlift (circa 1936).

Other special features of the resort include an intimate outdoor ice skating rink which has hosted championship figure skaters since the days of Sonja Henie. Saturday summer nights (through Labor Day) feature an ice capades headlined by a rotating series of stars (read Sasha Cohen, Brian Boitano, etc.) The lodge also houses a 70-year-old indoor bowling alley.

Like many Western resorts, in recent years, Sun Valley has become equally popular in the summer. Outdoor adventurers can take advantage of the temperate summer climate. For those who prefer the summer activities in more rarified air, the season is filled with cultural events and concerts. Be sure to take in a performance of the symphony at the new Sun Valley Pavilion.

But since summer is almost over for this year, let's look toward the fall. This is "between" season in Sun Valley--the summer vacationers are back to school and the skiers have yet to don their boots. Autumn offers weather warm enough for hiking, biking, golf and tennis, and a full slate of festivals.

Formerly the Food & Wine Festival, the Sun Valley Harvest Festival takes place from September 24-26. There are demonstrations by guest chefs; wine seminars; vintner dinners; and food sampling.

All's wool that ends wool at the Trailing of the Sheep Festival spanning Hailey and Ketchum. Celebrating Basque farming traditions, the towns become wild and woolly between October 8 and 10. Area chefs cook lamb (baaaaaaa!); wool artisans knit up a storm; and sheep get sheared and herded. According to the website, sheep poetry reading is also on the agenda. I assume this can't possibly mean that the sheep are actually reading poetry. But then again, magical things have been known to happen in the Sun Valley area. The highlight of the event is Sunday's Trailing of the Sheep parade. The 150-year-old tradition features Boise Highlanders, bagpipers, Basque dancers, and baa, baa black and white sheep.

http://www.visitsunvalley.com/ Information on Sun Valley, Ketchum, and Hailey
http://www.sunvalley.com/ Information on the Sun Valley Resort

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