Anyone else miss field day?

It was that whole day at the end of the year where you didn’t have to worry about school, and you could prove to your classmates that you were the fastest kid around, which developed into a complex by the time you got to high school track.

OK, maybe that’s a bit personal, but if you loved field day as much as I did, this weekend’s Aether Games hosted by the Aspen Youth Center are sure to take you back to your elementary school days.

“I’m so excited about it,” said Michaela Idhammar-Ketpura, executive director at AYC. “It’s my favorite thing we do all year.”

This is the third annual games, which allows teams of five adults to go head-to-head in a variety of traditional field events. Teams are required to pay or fundraise $500, which goes toward helping AYC keep its many programs free for the valley’s youth. Last year, 20 teams competed in the games.

Idhammar-Ketpura said that the idea for the games had been floating around the center for a while, but it took a partnership with Aether Apparel to bring it to life. The outdoor clothing company is now the title sponsor of the event and other sponsors include Home Team BBQ, which offers lunch to participants; Sopris Liquor and Wine, which is donating beer; and Jimmy’s, which is hosting an after-party with a signature cocktail.

Events for the games include wheelbarrow races, tug of war, giant soda pong, a relay that involves digging through a pool of water beads and a bouncy house obstacle course. Some competitions stay the same every year, but AYC also likes to add new challenges as the event grows and evolves.

Another change this year is that two teams of kids from the youth center will compete alongside the adults. Normally the kids get to referee and call the shots, but Idhammar-Ketpura joked that they wanted to try adding a couple of kids’ teams to see how badly they beat everyone else. She added that the kids who get to help run the event “love it because they get to be in charge.

“They get bossy real fast. Most of the time, kids are getting told what to do. They get intense,” she says.

Teams are, of course, encouraged to come up with a unique name and dress in entertaining ways. Idhammar-Ketpura said last year’s Aspen Elementary School teacher team is the one to beat, and she’s heard rumors that the Aspen Valley Hospital team might be competing in full scrubs.

You’re also welcome to come watch the games and cheer on your favorite team. The Aether Games run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Idhammar-Ketpura said that she likes how the games are starting to turn into a whole weekend event, with an after-party, and she’d like to see them continue to grow. As far as fundraisers go, she likes this one because it is more accessible to many people and because it’s a contrast to the more formal events that happen around the valley.

So if you’ve been looking for an excuse to embrace your inner child and prove that you are the fastest kid around, Rio Grande Park is the place to be on Saturday.

Chapman is the web editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Nescwick.