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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of July 3 - 9, 2002


Best of Valley struts its tasty stuff

Switch to Ketchum park a crowd pleaser

Express Staff Writer

For the 7th year, event organizer Bob Bolton threw what he calls an extravaganza."

Omlay Drum, of Omlays in Ketchum, serves up her tasty and popular spring rolls at the 7th Annual Best of the Valley in Ketchum. Express photo by Willy Cook

Best of the Valley, a culinary event par excellence, is now an institution on the weekend preceding July 4. The money raised from the fund-raiser held Saturday supports the Blaine County Teen Advisory Council and the programs it sponsors, such as the TGIF bus.

Though not as many corporate tables were sold this year, the "good news was the walk-in traffic was a huge part of it. We netted as much as last year."

Bolton estimated 1,400 people came through the park over the course of the afternoon and evening.

One reason for so many walk-ins this year was the venue change from Elkhorn to the Forest Service Park in Ketchum. Bolton said it "absolutely it was bigger because of being in Ketchum."

In booths situated around the park’s paved courtyard, 24 restaurants served up goodies for the enthusiastic crowd.

"People seemed to like the venue. It was more intimate, like a community event instead of out in Elkhorn," said co-organizer Susie Wrentmore of the Blaine County Recreation District.

Sean Cross and Brendan Dennehy, co-owner of Red Elephant Saloon, slice into some prime rib, which proved to be a favorite with the discerning diners who showed up at Best of the Valley Saturday evening. Express photo by Willy Cook

"A lot of people came for the first time and were shocked to find out it was the seventh annual."

The country, blues and rock band, R&R, played until 9 p.m., an hour after the usual shut down time due continued dancing.

Organized by Heidi Albrecht from the Creativity Camp, there were activities for kids, such as a hockey shoot run by members of the Sun Valley Suns, balloon animals, face and rock painting, a fortune teller and a cake walk. "That’s what makes it so nice. Parents can enjoy the food and the kids are kept busy," Wrentmore said. "I even saw adults participating in the cake walk. It was a big hit."

As for the starring attraction—the plentiful food—"People ranted and raved," said Bolton. "It was just decadent."

The biggest line was in front of the back country catering concern, Doug King’s Smokehouse, who was serving smoked pork loin, prime rib and leg of lamb, Mississippi slaw, Deep South beans and artichoke rice.

Coyote Grill had grilled flat iron steak with a Brazilian sweet rub "that was to die for," said one diner licking his lips.

"Six hundred shucked oysters from Ketchum Grill went like that," said another man, snapping his fingers.

Other places represented were the new East Ave. Bistro, Sawtooth Club, Roosevelt Tavern, Evergreen Restaurant, Cotton Wood Cooking and Catering, Rik Lum’s catering, and deserts from Christina’s, which "were ungodly," said Bolton.

"There was a little bit of everything."

This year, rather than the silent auction, a raffle was held for such items as helmets from Sturtevants, turkeys from Atkinsons’, Jytte hats, Comme les Filles packages, oil changes from the Car Doctor, sunglasses and goggles from Smith Carerra, and items from the Toy Store.

Sun Valley Brewery sold beer and the Rec. District bought and sold the wine themselves.

Pepsi-Cola donated drinks and products, Atkinsons’ Market donated flowers for centerpieces, and for the seventh straight year, Ameripride donated all the linens.

"It’s the cumulative efforts of people stepping up—volunteers are huge. It turned out to be a blast," Bolton said.

Bolton is already considering the future. He’s hoping "by year 10," to work closely with the Ketchum Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce to merge Best of Valley with all the activities that regularly take place over the 4th of July.

"It’s should be a happening thing where people will come for the whole week."

Amen to that. Now pass the ribs.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.