Friday, March 14, 2008

The valley's jumpin'

Valley long-timers have a popular wisecrack when visitors comment about the variety of local weather.

"Wait five minutes and it'll change."

The same can be said of the valley's ever-changing, eclectic entertainment, sports and culture. Just wait and there'll be a new event posted in no time.

This week it's 48 Straight that has the valley jumping, with ski and snowboard races on Dollar Mountain and halfpipe competition on Baldy, 14 bands in concert, environmental workshops, street parties and art exhibits—fast-paced activities dreamed up by Wood River Valley resident and 48 Straight co-founder Kipp Nelson.

As Ski Press World commented, the 2008 edition of 48 Straight "will represent an appropriate homecoming for the Idahoans who in only two years have turned this celebration of the mountain culture into a national phenomenon." The Sun Valley-Ketchum area is the last, climactic stop of the tour, which was staged in Telluride, Colo., in December and Squaw Valley, Calif., in February.

The name 48 Straight means 48 straight hours of entertainment, though 72 hours actually is involved. An event spokesman said "72" doesn't rhyme with "straight"—hence the 48.

So, through Sunday, the valley will be fulfilling its mission of being a national center for snow sports, entertainment, art, music and education. It's a welcome and powerful combination that, given enough marketing, should continue to grow.

This event and literally dozens of other year-round activities have changed the Wood River Valley from a one-time skiers' hangout into a multicultural, multiarts, multi-sports capital of sorts in the Rocky Mountain West.

Have fun out there.

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