End-of-summer celebration kicks off Friday in Rangely

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RANGELY — Labor Day weekend signifies the end of summer.
It also means it’s time for Septemberfest.
The three-day community celebration, which started with a free picnic in 1974, will once again offer a free meal. And a whole lot more.
Septemberfest starts Friday night with a rodeo at Columbine Park which continues throughout the day Saturday. The rodeo event has been expanded.
“It used to be just one day,” said Tim Webber, director of the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District, which sponsors Septemberfest, along with the Rangely Chamber of Commerce.
The rodeo is headed up by the Allred brothers, Hank and Wade.
“They are two wonderful guys,” Webber said, adding, “Four really nice saddles will be given away as prizes.”
A highlight of Septemberfest is always the barbecue on Labor Day at Elks Park. Food will be served from 1-3 p.m. And, yes, it is free.
“It’s still free, though we’ll probably put boxes out, if people want to donate,” Webber said, noting it cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to put on Septemberfest, with much of the money raised coming from local businesses.
“We try to do it as cheap as we can,” Webber said. “But at the same time, we want to give people a good bang for their hours. We’re competing for people’s vacation time.”
Nearly 2,000 people were served barbecue at last year’s Septemberfest. The Yampa Valley Boys bluegrass band will once again provide musical entertainment.
A couple of “dirty” events — the mud pillow fights and the ATV mud bog races — were dropped from the schedule.
“We had to cancel the mud bog races because the gentleman who does that for us was too busy; same with the mud pillow fights,” Webber said.
In another change, the chili cook-off contest was moved from Sunday to Saturday. The location for the event was also changed from the fire hall to Elks Park. The chili contest will be held from 4-5:30 p.m.
“It just seemed hard for people to get there after church,” Webber said, explaining the reason for the change.
Many of the events, including family-oriented games on Saturday as well as a craft fair, car show and art show will take place at Elks Park.
“I don’t normally get too far from Elks Park (during Septemberfest),” Webber said.
Other events are held at different locations, such as the ice cream social Sunday at the Rangely Museum. The Doo-Dah Parade on Monday will go down Main Street.
What makes Septemberfest successful is the efforts of people who donate their time — and the businesses and corporate sponsors who donate money, Webber said.
“The volunteers are No. 1,” he said. “If we didn’t have them, it wouldn’t happen. Also, we would not be able to pull this off each year without the help of all the donors.”