14 Aug

Gunnison’s IBar Ranch – A West Slope Gem

An empty haybarn is full of fun in Gunnison Colorado

boat tour-emcee-weddings
Paradise Bay Resort on Windward Oahu

In a previous blog I talked about a favorite place of mine, Bonefish Willy’s (Finding My Bonefish Willy’s) in Florida and other places from travels and former homes like Paradise Bay Resort on Oahu and Luncheria on St. Croix.  I’m always drawn to the off-the-beaten-path, nice but not too nice places that focus on food, surroundings and atmosphere over manicured lawns or polish or decent employee hiring practices.  I like a little rust, faded wood, rust, warped decking and rust if the trade-off is a place with real character.  You say stucco? I say hell no! These places attract all sorts including characters imported from the Land of Misfit Toys.

Some of these places are extinct like Crouching Lion and some are still going strong like the last true tiki bar on Oahu the La Mariana Sailing Club who’s 80’s priced happy-hour cocktails were always a stone’s throw away from my favorite surf break on Sand Island and who’s food was more than a stone’s through away from mentioning.  Go by for the blind brothers who play music and the monthly gathering of septuagenarian dancers who sing along to all the old-time Hawaiiana favorites.

I’m drawn to places that make people happy, that embrace the local aspects of their surroundings while also often providing me with a role in that happiness. At Bonefish Willy’s I was a waiter, a deckhand and fictional historian (AKA liar) for Paradise Bay Resort.

Ibar Ranch: Wedding and Music Venue with Colorado's best emcee and DJ - Me!
Ibar Ranch at the Base of W Mountain

I found a landlocked version of Bonefish Willy’s here in Gunnison, Colorado.  It’s the biggest outdoor venue in all of Gunnison called Ibar Ranch.  The Wickenhauser Family and title sponsor for all five years Castle Creek Guitar Company (thank you Brian, Sherry, Chris and Kent!) have created a GREAT venue for the community for weddings, special events and more importantly – LIVE MUSIC!  A special shout out to Dick Bratton as well!  I serve as emcee and occasional DJ for Ibar Ranch events and I’ve loved it.

By the end of the summer Ibar Ranch will have hosted some big names in music in our tiny little town of only 5,000 people.  The Motet, Sawyer Brown, Little Texas, Firefall, Diamond Rio, Asleep at the Wheel, Mamas Cookin’, Bellamy Brothers, Cheech and Chong (yes, really), Wynonna Judd and The Wailers.  An impressive lineup!Bryan “Wick” Wickenhauser  also partners regularly with non-profits as a fundraiser for some great causes like Gunnison Legacy, Six Points, the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley, Gunnison Valley Health Foundation and has some of the best pallet fires (AKA White Man Fires!) in all of Colorado.

The decor is an eclectic collection of rusty wagons, hay bails, picnic tables and VIP tables made out of old electrical wiring spools.  It’s in a word, PERFECT!  The converted hay barn provides shelter from summer storms and sits at the base of Tenderfoot Mountain.  The venue is flanked by active hay meadows, the sunsets to the west are incredible, the views east toward Tomichi Peak equally stunning and most everyone “gets it” when they’re here including many of the artists who see their fair share of venues and rave about Ibar Ranch.

So take your manicured lawns, stucco and gas fireplaces and I’ll keep my meadows, wagon rides, hay barns and pallet fires with an old-fashioned, high-quality burger and an ice cold cocktail or ten.

What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path-dive-thats-not-a-dive?

Anthony Poponi is a comic, improv artist, brain chemistry nerd and community-minded advocate and owner of Humore.us. He’s brings his love of connection and laughter to audiences as keynote, emcee, workshop host or moderator and his mission is to increase laughter and connectivity to combat the human health crises of isolation and disconnection.

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