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Innovation, What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of: Nomadic Van & Sync Vans

Many entrepreneurs launch startups in Ketchum simply because they can work from anywhere and would prefer to do so surrounded by the natural splendor of the Rocky Mountains. And while this is true for companies Nomadic Van and Sync Vans, they have tapped into both a national and local market by creating something perfect for outdoor aficionados like themselves: adventure vans. Luckily, these two companies aren’t in competition with each other since they’re involved in different sides of “van life”: Nomadic Van in the importing of Japanese Mitsubishi Delica vans and Sync Vans in the customization of Sprinter van interiors. Nomadic Van Although not officially started until the summer of 2019, Nomadic Van had its beginnings in Ron Arnold’s yard, where he would tinker around with the Mitsubishi Delica vans he had started importing from Japan as a side hustle in 2017. He had fallen in love with these durable, adventure-ready vans while traveling in New Zealand, where he also met the friend who would become his exporter in Japan. Ron’s friend, Gardner Cord, took an interest in Ron’s tinkering and wanted to learn about the vans. While the two worked on vans, they would spitball ideas for entrepreneurial opportunities, such as making storage bins or shot skis. Finally in the summer of …

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What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of: First Lite

In the lineup of businesses and companies started on the hallowed grounds of the Wood River Valley, First Lite used to be considered the new guy. Now in its 15th year of business since its founding in 2007, that’s hardly the case, and since its acquisition by media company MeatEater in 2018, First Lite has only continued to reach a bigger audience and market. First Lite, at its core, is a clothing company, creating merino wool garments in camouflage print for hunting. But with its focus on conservation efforts, a new flagship store, and the continuous growth provided by parent company MeatEater’s audience, First Lite has become a game-changer in the outdoor industry. How It Started First Lite started in the early 2000s as so many great ideas start—because of a need for something that doesn’t exist. Founders Kenton Carruth and Scott Robinson had both moved to Ketchum in the mid ‘90s and worked in the winter sports industry. The two enjoyed the outdoors, particularly hunting, but found that there were limited options to wear while hunting that would keep them warm in the chilly fall Idaho mornings. After wearing merino wool while hunting, which they discovered was an ideal …

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What We're Made Of

Women’s History Month: Women Ski Racers of Sun Valley

We’re already into the third week of March and Women’s History Month! After commemorating the vast history of the Wood River Valley, starting with the Indigenous Peoples and then focusing on the early settlers with ties to the mining and ranching industries, it’s time to focus on those women who made fame with their ski racing careers.  Ski racing has been central to the Sun Valley/Ketchum community since the inception of the resort in 1936, and we’re proud to boast numerous Olympic medalist women with ties to the area. These women represent the trailblazing spirit of Sun Valley and Ketchum and have impacted the history for women in sports for years to come. Gretchen Fraser  Gretchen Fraser, born in 1919 and laid to rest in the Ketchum cemetery in 1994, was the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in skiing. She grew up in Washington, but came to call Sun Valley home in 1938 when she met her soon to be husband, Donald Fraser. Although both Gretchen and Donald were members of the 1940 Olympics team, the games were canceled due to WWII. Gretchen took that time to help rehabilitate wounded veterans through skiing, something she would continue …

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Summer, Wellness, What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of – The Sun Valley Wellness Festival

In 1997, a group of wellness-minded community members in Sun Valley decided to host a small event over Memorial Day weekend. Since then, the annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference (SVWFC) has grown into a major event as well as the longest-running wellness festival in the world. Each year’s festival and conference draws roughly 1,500 people to see speakers such as Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, and Arianna Huffington, and to the festival portion which includes movement classes, vendors, and the experience park. This year’s 25th annual event will be held from June 10-13, and will focus on COMING HOME. It will explore how social health & well-being define the foundation of our collective wellness, illuminating what it really means to be a community. History After its founding in 1997, the formative team behind the festival started the non-profit arm, the Sun Valley Wellness Institute (SVWI) in 2005. The festival is now run by the institute as well as a Board of Directors, Advisory Council, and current Executive Director Andria Friesen. Over the years, the date of the SVWFC has changed from taking place during the slack month of May to a busy summer event. Its location has varied over the …

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Dining, Uncategorized, What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of – Warfield Distillery & Brewery

At the corner of Main Street and Sun Valley Road stands the Warfield Brewery & Distillery, the only combination brewery and distillery in Idaho. This combination brewery, distillery, and gastropub opened in 2015 and has been a go-to dining and imbibing destination ever since. Whether you’re hitting the roof-top bar in the summer for drinks and to sit around a fire pit or stopping by in the winter after spotting the blue light (which means it’s snowed over three inches in town and beer specials will run until it stops snowing), the Warfield serves up food, beer, and spirits like no other. The Warfield had some big shoes to fill when taking over the building that previously housed two local institutions: The Roosevelt and Slavey’s. The property itself has been in the Werry family since 1936; the Werry siblings were even born in the Sun Valley Lodge and raised in Ketchum. In 1952, the main street saloon known as Slavey’s—or sometimes “Slimey’s” by locals due to its atmosphere and clientele—moved in. Known as Ketchum’s last “honky tonk”, Slavey’s was famous for its live music and dancing, its drinking and brawls, and its annual 4th of July tradition of a horseman …

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What We're Made Of

#SunValleyProud: Tutorials & Inspiration For The Days Ahead

We may not be able to welcome visitors back to Sun Valley just yet, so we thought we’d bring a little of Sun Valley to you. On this page, we’ve asked a few of our local friends and partners to share some knowledge, to help you re-create some of the singular experiences of Sun Valley right in your own home. Want to ride a wheelie? Mix that one unforgettable cocktail? Throw that perfect fly fishing cast? Read on, friends. Enjoy these tutorials and share what you’ve learned. And then, when the time is right, we’ll gather back in Sun Valley and show off our skills. Enjoy, stay healthy, and we hope to see you soon. #SunValleyProud Sporty The Manual Trainer | Club Ride Apparel Yearning to manual or wheelie your bike but too afraid of falling backwards? The Sun Valley based mountain bike apparel company, Club Ride has come to the rescue with instructions for building a manual trainer that minimizes the risk of falling. You can use it in the comforts of your garage! Be ready to show off your sick moves just in time for the summer trails to open up. #SunValleyProud View this post on Instagram Want …

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Backcountry, What We're Made Of, Winter

What We’re Made Of: The Sawtooth Avalanche Center

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center is an incredible community resource, serving all who live and recreate in the Wood River Valley. Offering forecasts, weather, snow observations, accident reports, education and events, Sawtooth Avalanche is so much more than simply an avalanche organization. Serving those working, recreating and traveling in the Sawtooth National Forest, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center begins daily avalanche forecasts in the fall after enough snow has accumulated and continues until about mid-April. These forecasts encompass a wide area of wilderness—2 million acres—and are broken into zones as well as a list of common backcountry locations. Those zones are Galena Summit and eastern mountains, Soldier and Wood River Valley mountains, Sawtooth and western Smoky Mountains, and Banner Summit.  Sawtooth Avalanche’s forecast area doubled in late 2019 after receiving a grant from Idaho’s Off-Road Motor Vehicle Fund Covering an area this big for a relatively small organization is no easy task which is why Sawtooth Avalanche depends so much on help from the community. The public is encouraged to submit avalanche, snowpack, or weather observations through the sight (though they are not screened, edited or checked for accuracy by Sawtooth Avalanche). Nevertheless, these observations are crucial to ensuring safety in such …

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Uncategorized, What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of: Hempitecture – Two Entrepreneurs and Forbes’ “30 Under 30”

Sun Valley has held its own over the years as a home to burgeoning entrepreneurs and start-ups. Joining the ranks of locally-made brands like Smith and Scott, Hempitecture is making a splash on the building industry with their hempcrete building material. And not only has the company been making strides in using their material to build new buildings across the nation, founder and CEO Mattie Mead was recently named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30”.  Mead began Hempitecture as part of his senior thesis at New York’s Hobart College where he was studying architecture and environmental studies. His thesis explored more sustainable ways of building and drew upon existing examples that use vernacular (true to place) architecture like adobe in the southwest. His research eventually brought him to the UK and France where builders use hempcrete, a construction material made from hemp. It was a light bulb moment for the senior who, in addition to the thesis, was inspired to create the start-up that would become Hempitecture.  It was 2012 then and industrial hemp was still federally illegal and on the Controlled Substances Act. Despite these odds, Mead was driven. “I just knew there was this opportunity that was missing from …

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What We're Made Of, Winter

What We’re Made Of: Pro Athlete Extraordinaire – Rebecca Rusch

The Sun Valley area has always been known for its athletes from Olympic skiers to world-renowned rock climbers. Rebecca Rusch, originally from Chicago, has called Sun Valley her home and training grounds for the last 15 years. The ultra endurance pro athlete and world champion’s career has included numerous adventure sports including rock climbing, expedition racing, whitewater rafting, cross-country skiing and most recently, mountain biking. Though other towns may have better gyms or access to elite training facilities, Rusch chooses to call Sun Valley home. “It’s the people and the place that initially attracted me to Sun Valley and that keeps me here,” Rusch said. “I travel all over the world and I still always want to come back here; it feels like home. I appreciate that it’s off the beaten path, it keeps it special.” A story similar to many who put down roots in Sun Valley, Rusch was a self-described “outdoor sports nomad” in her mid-30s, looking for a place to call home while living out of her car. One of her adventure racing teammates, Patrick Harper, was born and raised in Ketchum (his dad, Butch Harper worked for the Forest Service for 30 years; Harper’s Trail is …

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Dining, What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of: The Covey Chef & Owner – Jesse Sheue

A Ketchum native, local restauranteur and owner of the Covey restaurant Jesse Sheue spent years learning and honing his craft in other locales before settling back in to his hometown with his wife and son. The importance of family and community was a big draw and is apparent in his restaurant which he and his wife designed to have the feel of a big living room or kitchen where everyone can mingle, eat, and connect.  Sheue got his start in the restaurant biz as a dishwasher—the worst dishwasher, he says—at Hailey’s CK’s restaurant when he was 23. “I was terrible but Chris [Kastner, owner of CK’s] took me under his wing and showed me how to act in a restaurant and what it takes.” From there, Sheue went to culinary school, a decision he regretted choosing instead of working in the industry. Sheue headed to the San Francisco area where he would stay for several years, opened up his own restaurant, working in La Jolla for Tony Di Salvo and Marco Ferraro at Jacks, then to Santa Barbara to work for John Pettitt. After marrying his wife Jane in Nepal and backpacking in Asia for a year, they came back …