There are few things in this world that go together as well as beer and hockey.
As a devout hockey fan, I can guarantee you that.
It only made sense then that the Teton Valley Foundation’s brand new Zamboni would be dropped off just down the street from Kolter Ice Arena at Grand Teton Brewing.
The Zamboni, a four-wheeled machine that resurfaces the ice wherever there is a hockey rink, arrived at the local brewery a shade after 1 pm on October 26th, 2021.
Even though the arrival of the Zamboni was a more than welcome sight to see in Teton Valley, unloading it was a little more difficult than anyone could have imagined.
Backed into the loading dock, the enclosed semi-trailer holding the “Zam” and the path through the brewery held some last-minute challenges for TVF.
It took around an hour, but the Zamboni successfully backed through the entire production line at GTB, often stopping for tape measures and puckered faces to eye up tight squeezes.
After one final crux corner, the Zamboni made it out and hit the short road to Kolter Ice Arena.
Amy Fradley, executive director of the Teton Valley Foundation, was giddy with excitement for the new machine.
“It’s funny, I’ve been having some conversations with our representative from Zamboni and he’s equally as thrilled as this community is,” said Fradley. “He said that he’s been telling everybody he knows that it’s so amazing that a community of this size believes in the benefits an organization like this and a facility like this can have for the community. Now that we’ve made the investment it’s a really powerful thing.”
The new Zamboni replaces a decrepit, 25-year old resurfacer that was on its last legs. Funding for the acquisition came from an unlikely source, prominent Jackson philanthropist the late Foster Freiss.
“I got a phone call on a Saturday morning in the middle of December last winter from a woman named Kristin Woodward,” said Fradley. “It just so happens that she worked for the late Foster Freiss.”
Freiss is known as one of the region’s greatest givers, and he had a particular way of going about giving his gifts.
“At the end of each year he would hand-pick employees and go to them and say, I would like to write a check for x number of dollars,” said Fradley. “In this case, it is $100k, and I would like to write a check, let me know who I should write it out to.”
With a few extra donations from the community via the TVF’s ‘Zampaign’, the machine was secured.
“She said it was a no-brainer for her, she knew that our old Zamboni was on its last legs,” said Fradley. “I was on my way to go do a hike in the snow, and unbeknownst to me was the fact that our whole world at the rink was going to change.”
With the funding secured, spending considerations still weren’t over as the rink needed upgrades to suit the new machine.
“Suddenly there was a list of improvements that we needed to make in order to give our new Zamboni a warm, cozy home,” said Fradley.
These improvements included new hot water and drainage systems.
“The hot water that we have in the current system did not produce hot enough water to produce quality ice,” said Fradley.
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley pitched in with a grant for the hot water system, enabling the upgrades.
To see the new Zamboni for yourself, Kotler Ice Arena will host TVF’s annual Hockeyfest this Saturday, Nov. 6, at 5 p.m. There will be a ribbon-cutting for the Zamboni at 5:30, along with opportunities for registration, a silent auction, skate rental, and an open skate session. Cost is $25 for adults and $12 for kids 19 and younger.