Buena Vista turned from a passageway to a cabin in the mountains into home for Zach Alexander.
“I have been in marketing and branding my whole life, working with startups, product marketing, graphic design and corporate communications,” says Alexander.
While Alexander has lived in Buena Vista for 4 years, he had passed through the town for about 25 years.
“My family has a cabin in Tincup, so I spent a lot of time coming through here from Oklahoma, where I was originally from, and we’d drive through BV, over Cottonwood Pass to get to the cabin in Tincup,” he says.
He later lived in Alma for 4 years before getting a job offer in Denver, which would have him moving from a true Western mountain town to an industrial part of the big city.
Alexander lived in Denver for 8 months before realizing “I needed to get back in the mountains as fast as I could.”
He lived out of his car and drove around the state, as well as traveling up and down the Arkansas River Valley until he found his perfect mountain town.
With a river to fly fish and plenty of fourteener peaks to climb, Buena Vista and its surrounding valley became “the best of all worlds.”
Before joining The Lariat, Alexander joined the Chaffee County Search and Rescue board of directors, specifically in managing events.
He would serve as a “community liaison role between our organization and various other groups like CKS PaddleFest or 14erFest or Gold Rush Days,” he says. “We always support these activities where people are going into the backcountry and there’s the potential for danger.”
His work with Search and Rescue eventually led him to cross paths with Court and Robbie Johnson.
Alexander did poster work to advertise for a Search and Rescue fundraiser held at The Lariat.
Noticing this, the Johnsons asked him if he could do poster work for them to help with their music venue.
“After about 6 months of just helping them with little bits and pieces here and there, it quickly became a full-time job and I had to start whittling back on my other responsibilities so that I could give The Lariat full attention,” Alexander says.
As brand manager, his job is more complex than just changing out posters and making sure upcoming events are displayed on the televisions in The Lariat.
Sometimes he’ll be picking up cigarette butts from the previous night or adjusting the propane tanks. He’ll also help in hosting bands, especially when the Johnsons are out of town.
“It’s not a hard project. It’s just a project that has a lot of ins and outs,” he says. “Basically, we’re throwing a party for everybody every single weekend. … The way I think about it is if you’re going to open up your house and party with all your friends and family every weekend, there’s a lot that you have to do to get that done.”
Music plays an important part in Alexander’s life, making every weekend a reward getting to see bands play live at The Lariat. His favorite moment was getting to see John Primer perform on the stage. Primer is a Chicago blues guitarist and singer and has been nominated twice for Grammy Awards.
“That was pretty amazing to see a legend like that play on stage in this little mountain town,” he says.
Watching and listening to the live bands is only half the fun. “Getting to look around the room at 9 o’clock on Saturday night, the dance floor is hopping and people are hugging each other and having a good time and everybody’s smiling, that’s the reward,” Alexander says.
It’s especially humbling for him to see how all these people, who have been working hard over the week, choose to let loose and celebrate at The Lariat.
Even with his work with The Lariat, Alexander still helps out on the Search and Rescue board of directors when he’s not looking for opportunities to fish or stand atop a fourteener.
He also does brand work with other businesses like Central Colorado Conservancy and helps out with BV Solar Share.
“I try to stay busy, connected with the community,” he says. “That’s important. If you’re going to be here, do your part.”