Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Cowboy up to benefit buffet


By MICHAEL AMES
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Tom Nickel and Wiley Ellis dish up some goodwill at last year's Brunch for the Big Easy. The Sawtooth Club hosts a benefit brunch for Ivan Swaner this Sunday. Photo by Willy Cook

This Sunday, April 9, hundreds will gather at The Sawtooth Club in Ketchum to do what folks in this valley do best: support their own. In this community, the old Derek and the Dominoes lyric "Nobody knows you when you're down and out" doesn't have much play. In fact, the opposite is often true.

This Sunday's Cowboy Brunch Benefit aims to raise money for Ivan Swaner, the mustachioed Wood River Valley historian whose house was severely damaged in a January fire.

Swaner has been a Sun Valley fixture for decades. In recent years he has directed the Ketchum Ore Wagon Museum, has been the Ketchum Wagon Days grand marshal and even took home prizes for his waxed handlebar mustache at last spring's Idaho State Beard and Moustache Championships.

The brunch benefit will be stocked with food from a number of local eateries including Akasha Organics, Mama Inez, East Avenue Bistro, Ketchum Grill, Peg Phillips Catering, Perry's, Rico's, The Sawtooth Grill, The Roosevelt, Smoky Mountain Pizza, the Rustic Moose, Atkinsons', Whiskey Jacques, Tully's, Albertsons' and Viva Taqueria.

Sawtooth owner Tom Nickel, who is also on the fund-raising committee for the brunch, said last October's hugely successful Big Easy Brunch is the model on which the Swaner benefit is based.

"(Swaner) is kind of a cowboy, so we are setting up a 'cowboy brunch,'" Nickel said, adding that there will be a wide variety of food in addition to Western-themed specialties such as huevos rancheros and buffalo chili.

Money for Swaner will be raised three ways: a requested $20 donation to enter the brunch, a silent auction that will continue throughout the day, and raffle tickets made available for $10 per ticket. Among the raffle's bounty is a season ski pass for the 2006-2007 ski season, donated by Sun Valley Co.

"(The ski pass) takes this and puts it right over the top," said Nickel. He expects 200 to 300 people at the Sawtooth between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, though hopefully not all at once, he said.

Nichol noted that the raffle is rigged to help folks win more than once. If a ticket draws an early prize, it will be tossed back in the barrel for chances at more goods, including the grand prize ski pass.

The Brunch for the Big Easy raised $25,000. Nichol is hoping the Cowboy Brunch will enable Swaner to purchase a new trailer or home in the area. The Smiley Creek Lodge has already donated a free summer-long R.V. hookup for Swaner and the eventual trailer the brunch could help purchase.

For Swaner, things are suddenly looking up. Bad fortune is always tragic, but if something bad has to happen, chances are this community will make the recovery a bit easier to handle.

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Cowboy Brunch

The Cowboy Brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Sawtooth Club on Main Street in Ketchum. There is a $20 requested donation at the door and $10 raffle tickets.




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