40th Septemberfest begins Saturday

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By ROXIE FROMANG | Special to the Herald Times

The Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District pause for a photo while making final preparations for the 2020 Septemberfest celebration.

RANGELY I Depending on who you ask the year of origin for the Rangely community event known as Septemberfest varies. Most old timers agree Flossy Eddy and Barbara Wade organized the first Septemberfest, but it wasn’t in September. In 1976 when the celebration began it was actually held around the 4th of July weekend.  Eddy and Wade dubbed themselves as the R.A.I.D. (Rangely Area Independence Day) Committee. Local historian Bob Haag and longtime Rangely Town Manager Don Peach recall its originating in the early 1980s.  Maybe older, maybe younger? In 2020, for history keeping purposes, Rangely’s Septemberfest celebrates its 40th birthday.

For the past 15 years Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District Executive Director and go-to-guy Tim Webber has been involved with ensuring the event takes place. Webber credits Peg and Carl Rector, Jane Miller, June Striegel, the Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Town of Rangely for the organization of the celebration prior to his beginning. Today the Rectors (Jeff and Rebecca) are still heavily involved as is Webber and his crew from the recreation and park district.  

Festival planning committee member in the early days and longtime Rangely resident Kelvin White reports that everything was centered around a free pit barbecue with all the fixings that town folk would line up for down the street. The celebration has evolved over the years, events and competitions have come and gone, but the barbecue in the park is still a focal point. When Webber started Bill Hume and Bill Kinney were in charge of the main dish. This year he and his team are preparing nearly 600 lbs. of beef to feed the masses. The most they have ever served was more than 2,000 lbs. The meat preparation begins five days before the event when it is seasoned and hung at Nichols Store’s walk-in cooler. Cooking happens on Sunday and so does the cutting of the watermelon. A full pallet of watermelon will be served in 2020. From there the local businesses step up to the plate. Rangely District Hospital donates all of the macaroni and potato salad, Giovanni’s Italian Grill donates the pickles and baked beans, White River Market donates 1,000 buns, and Rangely True Value donates a pallet of water. Chevron USA, Blue Mountain Energy, Big D’s Pumping, and other businesses donate funds to help the event operate. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serves up the delicious meal to hungry residents and visitors. Webber, always grateful for help, says it takes a lot of people and businesses to make it successful. 

After the year we’ve all had it’s safe to say we deserve some good barbecue in our lives. Monday, Sept. 7 beginning at 1 p.m. you can indulge, not only in the great food but also in the company of your community. Septemberfest events start Saturday, Sept. 5. See the ad on page 4A in this week’s paper for a complete schedule, and follow the 40th annual Septemberfest page on Facebook for more information.