Ullr Fest Turns 50: Start training now
After growing up in the New Orleans area, I’m a little jaded: In my mind, a pickup truck doesn’t constitute a parade float (unless it’s a weekday elementary school affair). You will see a few pickups in Breckenridge’s Ullr Fest parade, but you’ll also see why this winter festival brings a party that even a NOLA girl can vouch for. Think of it as a week-long snow dance.
“I’m not sure I’m saying this right … ”
I wish I had thought of this. Thanks, Colin Bane via Westword for this beautifully simple guideline to pronouncing Ullr: it rhymes with ruler. Ullr is the Norse god of snow.
A little history
Breckenridge’s story begins in 1859 with gold-seeking prospectors. We’ll fast-forward to the 1960s, when the pioneers came in the form of skiers whose Norwegian roots run deep. Trygve Berge and Sigurd Rockne – the same pair who founded what was to become Breckenridge Ski Resort – also started Ullr Fest, then known as Ullr Dag (or Ullr Day in Norwegian).
The story says it’s all about paying homage to Ullr, both thanking him for Breckenridge’s bountiful snowfall and honoring him in hopes of more snow. That’s true, but I’ve also got the hunch that a handful of snowed-in locals wanted an excuse to throw a theme party.
Today, we’ve traded the Aquavit for Ullr Schnapps and Breckenridge Distillery libations. The themes that started it all – snow and Vikings and Breckenridge – continue in the form of Bedazzled Ullr helmets, fake fur clothing, an irreverent dating game and a parade that celebrates life in a ski town.
Live like the locals on parade day
In New Orleans, the major parades are exclusive. In Breckenridge, we’ll take anyone willing to costume up. Gold underwear and body paint? Perfect. Fake bur bikini? You’re in.
We understand that not everyone has the time to plan and build a float. After all, it requires evenings spent building and barbecuing, plus many preceding discussions on theme and the integrity of materials such as papier-mâché and duct tape. This year, we here at the Breckenridge Resort Chamber are building a float, and we’re opening it up to anyone who’s interested. Of course, spots are limited. Still, it’s a chance to live like the locals and channel your inner Ullr.
Guide to Breckenridge Ullr Fest, Jan. 6-12, 2013
Sunday, Jan. 6: Crowning of the Ullr King and Queen
Free beer. I could stop there, but this event also includes live bluegrass from one of my favorite Summit County bands, The Luv Brothers. What’s not to love? Their playlist includes an Ode to Iron Maiden. Only the first few hundred folks to arrive can expect those free beers, so it’s best to show up on time — perhaps even early. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 7: Family Night
Bring the kids for free snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, ice skating and a campfire. Don’t have kids? Throw on an Ullr helmet (you do have an Ullr helmet, right?) and head to Ullr’s.
Tuesday, Jan. 8: Ullympics
Tuesday’s order of activities should run something like this: ski, après, Ullympics. No need to change out of ski clothes; this is an evening outdoor activity, and it’s probably going to be cold. Prizes include free beer. Notice a trend?
Wednesday, Jan. 9: Ullr Dating Game
This 21-and-up event takes place at a bar. Prepare to heckle.
Thursday, Jan. 10: Ullr Fest parade
If you only make it to one event, this is it.
Friday, Jan. 11: Comedy night
Comedians will be announced closer to the festival.
Saturday, Jan. 12: Chilly Chili Cookoff & Costume contest
The week winds down with an all-you-can-eat expo of the perfect recovery food, plus a new Viking-themed costume contest and fashion show. Fake fur bikinis, anyone?
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