New chamber director revels in Kremmling’s offerings
Special to the Sky-Hi News
“Kremmling is a diamond in the rough, and we love it that way,” says Shelly McManus, who took the helm of the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce as executive director earlier this spring.
“We are untapped and untamed,” she continues, confirming the chamber’s new slogan, one whose powerful, boundless energy is reflected in the speaker herself.
McManus is a creative entrepreneur, a live-music devotee, an outdoors explorer, a world traveler, a conversation starter … who just happens to also have had a long career in the financial services sector.
It is this combination of skills and experience, filled out with a natural exuberance for people, that she has been successfully employing since March to cultivate Kremmling business – new and established – and foster community development.
A longtime resident of Las Vegas, Nev., she was first introduced to Kremmling through family. Her cousins Kenny and Heather Bentler own the Rocky Mountain Bar & Grill in town and her aunt and uncle have served as seasonal campground hosts at Wolford Mountain Reservoir just north of Kremmling. But it was on a stay-over during a trip from her native Minnesota back to Vegas in 2013 when, traveling the Trough Road and overlooking Gore Range and the Colorado River, she “fell in love” with the area and decided to make it her home.
She arrived in May of that year with an engaging smile and her own mobile-business, an unmistakable box-van, brightly decorated with flirtatious cowgirls and the name HoDown on the side. HoDown Apparel, the name of McManus’ own clothing line, was founded in 2007 and is oft-looked for at state fairs, rodeos, and music festivals. However, it wasn’t long before she also established her first store-front on the Kremmling Town Square and started taking advantage of the excitement the area has to offer.
She enjoys hiking, camping and river rafting. Her Sea-doos have seen time on Wolford and Green Mountain reservoirs, and she has enthusiastically taken up snowmobiling on Rabbit Ears Pass and other (secret, wink-wink) local trails. She plans on investing in a ski pass, a camper and a dirt-bike in the near future.
She loves the proximity to so many world-class resorts where, “within about an hour, I could be enjoying a beer or music festival in Vail, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge or Winter Park – Kremmling is the center of the Universe.”
McManus is also a yoga teacher and teaches weekly Rockin’ Chair yoga classes at Cliffview Assisted Living and Akhanda yoga for all level yogis. She would like to start offering yoga retreats, such as yoga-rafting weekends.
But if you think all that sounds like more than enough for any normal super-charged individual, you would be wrong. When the Kremmling Chamber was looking for a new director, she decided she would take on that challenge as well, and has jumped in with both feet.
Already in the position for nearly three months, the new ED was christened with the annual Easter Egg Hunt just two weeks into the job.
“Right away, I was impressed with how much the community will come together to make an event a success,” she recalls.
It gave her enough confidence to launch a brand new Cinco de Mayo event, one which brought together the English and Spanish speaking communities in organization, implementation and celebration. It was such a success that talk of next year began before the event was even over.
“We are a multicultural community,” she notes. “I hope it opens the door to recognizing and celebrating other ethnic and cultural traditions as well.”
But for now, she is focused on traditional Kremmling culture. The home-town Kremmling Days is scheduled for June 19-21. It will maintain the much loved Fireman’s BBQ and kids games, the Mustang Mile race, Cliff Golf, Redneck Mud Shuffle, and all-alumni reunion.
While looking forward to the event, she also sees it as reflective of the overall challenge of the Chamber and the Town.
“Kremmling is a unique place. We truly are — as the former slogan said — the way Colorado used to be. We want to protect that. But we also want to bring in new business, new events and new residents. It is a fine balance.”
So far, she seems to be living up to the challenge and is grateful for the support she has received in doing so.
“It has been great working with the entire community, including the Chamber Board, town Board, past chamber directors, Assistant Chamber Director Shyla Bohall and other county chambers. I feel like everyone is rooting for me and coming together to help make me successful in the position.”
Her Chamber goal is to have 100 percent membership of all Kremmling business and an increase in regional members. She hopes to encourage more family-friendly spaces and to brand Kremmling as the gateway to Steamboat. With her persuasive charm and endless energy, she might have a good chance of achieving that and more.
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When the Braidwood Condominiums in Winter Park were built in the 1980s, the building lacked hallways wide enough for wheelchairs, walls between units were slim and the fire suppression system couldn’t compare to modern requirements.