Although the organizers of Wintersköl are waiting until the outcome of a special board of health meeting this afternoon to share specifics on the annual celebration of winter, the community has spoken, and the royal honorees have been chosen.
Dr. Kim Levin and Jimmy Yeager will reign as queen and king of Aspen’s 70th annual Wintersköl, slated to run Thursday to Sunday. Levin serves as Pitkin County Medical Officer and Yeager is a longtime restaurateur.
Both community leaders have played a particularly integral role within the COVID-19 pandemic, with Levin at the helm of the public health department and Yeager acting as an advocate and liaison for the local restaurant and business community.
The Wintersköl committee, which selects the king and queen based on nominations from the community, looks for locals who exemplify the event’s spirit through their dedication to and involvement with the community. Levin and Yeager were chosen “for their outstanding leadership” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Sunday, the only other information that was available related to Wintersköl 2021 was the slogan — “The Snow Must Go On.”
“This year’s Wintersköl celebration will maintain the spirit of Wintersköl, but it will look different than past years due to COVID-19 restrictions,” according to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which produces Wintersköl. More details will follow after said meeting, an ACRA spokesperson said Friday.
Levin and Yeager both credited their staff as well as the community for being recognized.
A native of Massachusetts, Levin moved to the valley in 2006 and has worked closely with the Pitkin County Board of Health and Public Health since 2013. She also practices emergency medicine at Aspen Valley Hospital, Snowmass Clinic and Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
Levin said the acknowledgment “really represents a whole team of people who have come together to fight this pandemic and to protect our community.”
Prior to the pandemic, Levin worked on a variety of public health projects, including Tobacco 21, opioid reduction, banning vaping flavors and maintaining fluoride in drinking water, according to the ACRA statement. She also has previously worked as a physician volunteering in countries such as Haiti, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua and ran a free clinic for the local homeless population through the Aspen shelter.
“[This award] really reflects the values of the community to honor the service and work that we do, which is so special,” Levin said Sunday. “I feel very honored to be a part of this special community.”
Yeager said he accepts the recognition “with a great deal of humility, as my efforts in being the voice of the restaurant community could not have happened without the collaboration of my business partner and general manager, Jessica Lischka.”
Since moving to the valley three decades ago, Yeager has been and remains an active member of the local community. The New Jersey native opened Jimmy’s American restaurant and bar in 1997 after working in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years.
“Always putting his employees first, Jimmy’s found alternative solutions to adapt to the restrictions in order to keep the business running and his employees in their jobs, offering take-out only, to-go cocktails and utilizing a delivery cart during the spring and summer to keep business going,” reads a statement from ACRA that will be released this week.
Jimmy’s, which boasts a nationally recognized bar program, is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Yeager attributes his restaurant’s successes to his entire crew, who he calls “the heart and soul” of the business.
“Our initial leadership in helping hospitality reopen this past spring was met with exceptional timing, as our letters to our elected officials were what all of our colleagues were also feeling and thinking,” Yeager said Sunday. “We represented our industry by having a seat at the table and our success was due to the thoughtful sharing of ideas from our fellow restaurateurs. This collaboration continues to the present day.”
The Wintersköl statement from ACRA also credits John Kenny, Zach Stevens and Lisa Zimet with submitting this year’s winning slogan. The slogan will appear on buttons, in print and other promotional materials for this year’s toast to winter.