Setting tables for the love of books, Tops of the Rockies |

Setting tables for the love of books, Tops of the Rockies

Barbara Davis explains her tabletop with a train theme to potential bidders at Tops of the Rockies fundraiser at the Grand Lake Yacht Club on June 24.

On Sunday evening more than one hundred book and library lovers attended the annual Tops of the Rockies at the Grand Lake Yacht Club.

Eight years ago, Tops of the Rockies was started by Grand Lake resident Pat Raney, who wanted to raise money for a new library in Grand Lake. Initially tabletops with settings and wine goblets were auctioned off. The fundraiser later developed into a display of creative, elaborate tabletops with literary themed accoutrements.

“There are some people who have never missed the event,” said Airel Lowerison, a Grand Lake resident and one of the volunteers who helped organize the event.

Lowerison is also a book lover and avid reader, belonging to three book clubs in Grand Lake.

“I read books I never would have read (before) being a member of these groups,” she said.

She attends the Brown Bag Book Club, Nighttime Dinner, and the Ladies of the Book club. Among her favorite authors are Barbara Kingsolver, Wallace Stegner, and Ann Patchett. She began reading voraciously after retirement and has come to love reading.


Marilyn Binkely and Jeanne Kafer orchestrated the birding-themed table. Binkely purchased a bird feeder, seeds, and field guide. As a third-generation birder, she is uniquely qualified to build this table for the auction.

“My grandmother and mother had birds in their backyard. When they would fly-fish, they would look for birds,” Binkely said.

She watches for birds in winter in Grand Lake and has seen three species of the Rosy-Finch during her years living in Grand Lake. These cold weather birds are not nesting in tundra, she said.

“200 flocks (of Rosy-Finch) come here and many visitors come to Grand Lake just to see them.”

As part of her birding-themed table, Binkely will come to the home of the winning bid to consult with the homeowner on where to place the bird feeders so animals can’t reach them.  

“Thomas the Tank Engine” themed table was a popular auction item, which included a model train running around a Thomas cake. Barbara Davis and Patricia Marnette designed this tabletop.

“Last year I came to the event and I knew I needed to create a table and do something fun,” Davis said.

Other items included in this tabletop exhibit were a talking motor engine, six train puzzles, six train books, and six bananas and plates, all arranged as a party for a child.

Wine for the event was donated by Ken and Judy Jensen with the help of Republic National Distributing, and the silent auction items were donated by Grand Lake merchants, all to benefit the Friends of the Library and Grand County Library District.

About $10,000 was raised from the event, according to Branch Librarian Sue Luton.

“We had an increase in attendance over the last couple years,” said Edie Strate, librarian services specialist at the Juniper Library.

“The event had a lot of positive feedback on how fun it was, and what a great idea it was to shift the focus to more creative tabletops like bird-watching.”

The tabletops reflect the county’s residents and their favorite activities such as the Devil’s Thumb Spa tabletop that included a gift certificate for their zip line, she said.