If you want to get into the ski and snowboard spirit, you can do so today, even though there's no snow on the ground. Head out to Afton Alps for its fall fair, which concludes today. Hours at noon to 5 p.m.
You'll see a few signs of the new ownership while you're there. (Vail Resorts purchased Afton earlier this year.) The ticket booths are gone. The ski patrol building is being remodeled, and the kitchen at the Highlands Chalet (open for golf for another week or so) is gutted, awaiting a makeover. In addition, Paul's Pub, the bar/restaurant in the Alps chalet, shows some new drywall for a wall by the kitchen. It also has the outline of a fireplace framed in.
Both outside and inside the Alps building, you'll see signs--literally--signaling Vail's ownership. A banner for Hoigards, a local retailer Vail purchased shortly after buying Afton, waves from the second floor. Tabletop brochures advertise for the Epic Pass, which lets you purchase lift tickets for the company's resorts out west.
Speaking of lift tickets, Afton is entering the age of RFID scanners. Scanners from Odin Technologies are set up near most, if not all chair lifts.
The snow experience, which after all, is what most of us go to a ski resort for--should be improved, too. Vail has, among other things, purchased new snow guns. You'll be able to see a few of them up close at the fair, each with less than 10 hours of service.