It’s beginning to look a lot like … Holidayfest.
The annual Rangely Chamber of Commerce Christmas celebration will be held Saturday. This will be the third year for the event.
And, important for an outdoor event, the weather forecast for Saturday looks good. Not like two years ago when it snowed. A lot.
“That first year, they had the big snow, which made it more festive, but more of a headache, too,” said Beverly Gibbs, Colorado Northwestern Community College Foundation director, who is heading up the Holidayfest Committee.
Ideally, there would be a light snow falling during the nighttime parade down Main Street in Rangely, but not enough to cause problems with clearing the road.
“We’ve had a love-hate with the snow,” Gibbs said. “It’s nice, because it makes it more festive. But if you have a lot of snow, it can be a big headache, which I heard it was the first year.”
Gaila Bell organized the first Holidayfest.
“I think she kind of took on the whole thing the first year,” Gibbs said. “Just for one person to do it, I can’t imagine.”
Gibbs has been involved with the event the past two years. She has a lot of good help, too, she said.
“There’s a person over each event,” Gibbs said. “Phyllis Henley is my right-hand lady. Then we have Vicky Pfennig over the parade. Bertha Tolley, Donna Gohr and Kay Nickson, with the animal shelter, are on the committee, as well as Lyndsey Wiley, Brenda Hopson with the museum, and Loyann Hayes.”
Like the first year of Holidayfest, the parade of lights will be held at night, by popular demand. Last year, the parade was held during the day. This year’s parade will start at 6:30 p.m. at the firehouse and head west on Main Street.
“We started hearing from everyone they wanted a night parade, so we moved it back this year,” Gibbs said.
Also new this year is a senior king and queen contest.
“Those have already been voted on, and they will be crowned at 3 p.m. at Town Hall on Saturday,” Gibbs said. “There will be a first and second runners-up, and we have a little prince and princess as well.”
Tolley is heading up the senior king and queen contest. Entry forms were distributed at the Radino Center, Eagle Crest, Rangely District Hospital and the chamber of commerce office.
There’s also a business decorating contest, coordinated by Gohr.
“It will be announced during Holidayfest who the winners are,” Gibbs said. “There will be a first, second and third.”
The theme for this year’s Holidayfest is “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” And from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Santa Claus will be at the new Parkview Elementary School. There will be treat bags and activities for the kids.
Following the parade, there will be a Christmas story/play at the town square, coordinated by Wiley, Ron Henrie and Patty Collett.
“We’re trying to incorporate all age groups,” Gibbs said. “We added the senior court to incorporate the older age groups, to make it truly a community event. It’s really the only event of its kind in Rangely.”
Funding for the event comes from donations. But with the down economy, donations have also been down.
“We do all of this through donations,” Gibbs said. “Donations are down quite a bit from last year. It’s definitely (due to the economy). There’s been a drastic difference in the donations. Even some that gave last year, gave less this year. Some of those larger companies spread their donations around, so we didn’t anticipate we would get them again this year, just being realistic. We wanted to do a few more things this year, like we wanted to add an event for the teens, we’ve just had to back away from.”
Sponsors for this year’s Holidayfest include Moon Lake Electric, White River Market, Urie Trucking, Rangely Chamber of Commerce, Stewart Welding, Independent Life Center, Cook Chevrolet Jeep and Subaru, Rio Blanco County Abstract, Don Rooks Sinclair, State Farm Insurance and Rio Mesa Resources.
Just in case the weather does take a turn for the worst Saturday, the outdoor events at town square will be moved to the new Parkview Elementary School. The parade will go on, regardless of the weather.
Saturday’s forecast, which is subject to change, of course, calls for “times of sun and clouds. Highs in the mid 30s and lows in the low teens.”
There’s no mention of snow. But, as Gibbs said, “Just a pretty dusting of snow, that would be ideal.”
• • • • •Stanley and Vicki Crawford of Meeker like to do things together. So, the couple had surgery the same day in August at the same hospital. Vicki had her knee operated on, while Stanley had shoulder surgery. I’m happy to report they both have recovered nicely.
• • • • •Richard Sales, associate director of the Colorado Center for Community Development in Denver, has strong ties to the Meeker area.
“We were first in Meeker on our honeymoon 32 years ago,” said Sales, who has met with local officials to discuss historic preservation options for the elementary school. “We’ve been constant visitors over the years. We love some of the back country, up in the Flat Tops. Meeker is truly one of our favorite towns. It is still one of those unscarred communities. A number of (Colorado) communities have been pressured by exponential growth and by tourism, but Meeker still carries a character that is sort of the essence of rural Colorado.”
As far as the future of the elementary building, which will be vacated at the end of the school year, Sales said, “The existing elementary school has a fabric that is important to downtown. You have to weigh all of the aspects, and hopefully that’s what we’ll do. With these old elementary schools, there’s a large amount of cultural value to folks who grew up there and were educated in the school. It’s important to respect that.”
• • • • •Nancy Kramer, Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism regional project coordinator, would agree with Sales.
Kramer is involved in a project called “Boundless Landscapes, Spirited People!”
“These four words describe the vast and varied northwest corner of Colorado according to representatives from Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Jackson counties who have met multiple times in the last four years to assess and design a plan to draw visitors to our region,” Kramer said. “This plan is tailored to the cultural heritage traveler who seeks to learn, understand and ‘feel’ the authentic core of a locale.
“Nearly 30 volunteers have represented their communities and helped earn an initial Colorado regional strategic planning, branding and marketing material development grant. A second grant to implement the inaugural marketing plan has also been received. Additional funding is being sought to establish interpretive gateway signs in each of the 11 communities engaged in the project. The Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage marketing brochure and Web site will be available this coming January.
“The cultural heritage visitor is usually older, spends extended time, more dollars and treads lightly as they travel an area. This type of tourist is the fastest growing segment in the industry. A recent research study reveals that 78 percent of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural and/or heritage activities while traveling, translating to 118.3 million adults each year. With cultural and heritage travelers spending an average of $994 per trip, they contribute more than $192 billion annually to the U.S. economy.”
Kramer said the collaborative effort to preserve and share the diverse stories of Northwest Colorado, along with the positive economic impact, is a win-win for the region.
“From a high mountain park, over the crest of the continent, across the sprawling river watershed, to the dramatic canyons of Colorado’s northwest border, this region offers a diversity of geographical features and personal lifestyles. It is not only the museums and historic sites that tell our story, but it is the hardy people and the extremes of landforms that create our unique tale. We plan to share it through “Boundless Landscapes, Spirited People!”
• • • • •Ken Coughlin’s case had been continued until Jan. 11, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.
Coughlin, from Meeker, has been charged with illegal hunting. He was issued a summons in September for illegal possession, hunting in a closed area and a “Samson” surcharge. The “Samson” surcharge can be applied in cases where big game are shot illegally.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife seized a set of six-by-six bull elk antlers in the case. The bull elk was reportedly killed in Unit 22 in the Piceance Basin, but in an area where hunting is restricted.
“The DOW has agreements with energy companies … we have an agreement with both Shell and EnCana to allow hunting on portions of their private land within the Piceance Basin,” said Randy Hampton, DOW public information officer for the northwest region. “However, there are tight restrictions on those hunting opportunities. Basically, the companies set areas that are open to hunting.”
Coughlin’s first court appearance was Nov. 23. He could face more than $12,000 in fines because of the alleged hunting violations and could be assessed 30 points against his hunting privileges.
The DOW seized the antlers from a local taxidermist, where Coughlin had taken them.
“If the individual is found not guilty of charges that led to seizure, the antlers will be returned,” Hampton said. “If he is found guilty, the DOW maintains possession and a determination is made about what to do with them.”
• • • • •Congratulations to Steve and Lisa Lucero, of Burrito Express in Rangely, on the birth of their grandson, Austin Christopher England. I saw Lisa recently and she was showing people a photograph of Austin. She was one proud grandma, as well she should be.
• • • • •Speaking of babies, congratulations to Suzan and Nathan Pelloni on the birth of their son, Holt Kenneth. You can read the announcement in this week’s paper.
Flying back from Kansas, where I went for Thanksgiving, I sat next to a guy from Steamboat Springs. When I told him I was from Meeker, he asked me if I knew Suzan Dole (her maiden name). I said I did, and that she had just had a baby the week before. The guy — I’m sorry I didn’t catch his name — said he knew Suzan from her competitive skiing days.
Knowing Suzan, it won’t be long and she’ll be back on the slopes … or hunting … or snowmobiling … with baby in tow.
Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.