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September 28, 2009
Is Recovery In the Air?
Several years ago, one of my high school buddies started a fantasy football league with the hopes of keeping a core group of us in touch with each other despite the miles between us. It worked.

Since he started this league, we have tried to get together once a year to hang out for a long weekend and just enjoy each other's company. Last year we had to ditch the get-together, as none of us felt comfortable expending the funds in a bad economy getting worse by the day.

This year, with some strong indicators the economy is improving, we once again made plans to meet, this time in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival. In addition to the festival, we spent every waking hour taking in all the city had to offer. What I found was not another repressed citizenry, but a thriving, vibrant city.

First of all, my flight to Denver Thursday morning was completely full. I guess none of the passengers got the memo they are unwitting vicitims of The Great Depression Part II. We proceeded to check into our hotel, which was also completely booked. (Alert the media! People are traveling!)

Our first session at the festival itself was Thursday night. At $55/ticket, it wasn't exactly a cheap date. Lo and behold, the line to get in stretched all the way around the convention center, a distance of no less than half a mile. Sold out. Approximately 12,500 people on-hand to attend the festival. I did not, however, see a CNN van out front to report on it.

We took a break from the local festivities on Friday and instead hired an adventure guide to take us mountain biking. We took in some other sights on Friday, then attended the Colorado Rockies baseball game that evening. Lo and behold, a full house! (I'm starting to sense a pattern here.) After the game, we wandered over to Oktoberfest, another Denver tradition, and made our way through wall-to-wall people gladly opening up their wallets to buy highly overpriced beer, food, and merchandise.

Saturday we took a tour of Invesco Field, the Denver Broncos' football stadium. Our guide walked us through several of the private suites, all with exorbitant price tags, yet all (oddly enough) leased out. Even bankrupt companies (see United Airlines) have decided they just can't live without watching their team in luxurious surroundings.

Saturday evening we once again attended the GABF, and it was a madhouse. If I had to guess, there were at least 15,000 people roaming the convention center. Didn't all these people realize we're in a major recession?

I understand the media needs to provide stories that people will read. Like the tendency to rubberneck at the scene of an accident, bad news gets more attention. My experience this weekend told me that a lot of Americans are ignoring the doomsday forecasts and are actually living their lives and having fun. My buddies and I had a great time, and the expense of the weekend took a backseat to the experiences and friendships we shared. Which leads me to only one conclusion:

Beer simply makes the world a better place.

Make it a great week.

Clint


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