Crawford, nestled at the base of the West Elk Mountains, is a small town with a big pioneer spirit. For 40 years the community has celebrated that heritage with Pioneer Days, now in its 40th year.
'This year's theme, 'There's No Place Like Home,' just about sums up the lifestyle of our community," said event coordinator Tristan Pfeffer.
Pfeffer and her husband experienced their first Pioneer Days in 2012, when they moved to town the day before the festivities began. She said, "This is a great community event, and everyone turns out for it ... 80 percent of the people we know, we met that week! We loved it!"
They loved it so much that Tristan jumped in the next year as a volunteer, and for the past four years has been the coordinator. It is a big job to pull all the different elements together, and Tristan gives credit and praise for all the volunteers who step up to make the event so much fun. "It would not be possible without them," she said. "They are great, taking on a task and running with it."
Their efforts result in four days of fun and community spirit.
Starting things off is an old-fashioned dessert theater, featuring local characters hamming it up in the melodrama, "The Disappearance of Felicity Fretwell, or Whatever Shall Happen to the Children?" Come prepared to participate as you cheer on the hero, boo and hiss at the villain, and form hearts and sigh for the heroine! The fun begins at 7 p.m. at the Community Room at Crawford Town Hall. There will be repeat performances on Saturday.
Friday's focus is on food, so come hungry. It starts early with the best cooks in the spotlight for the baking contest. Bring your best dish to Town Hall on Friday, June 8, between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Judging is from 3 to 5 p.m. There are categories for breads; cakes; cookies; pies; and bars, with divisions for adults and kids.
Enjoy a free barbecue lunch as Crawford First State Bank of Colorado hosts its annual customer sppreciation lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
From 4:30 to 6:30 the Crawford Fire Auxiliary will be serving up a taco/salad bar dinner in the park to raise money for the fireworks fund. New this year is the silent auction, so bring your appetite and your checkbook to support the fireworks display while outbidding your friends on some great items in the silent auction.
"Stick around," said Tristan. "Starting at 6 p.m. we crown our dignitaries and then start the live auction, where you can even buy the baking contest entries!"
Saturday, June 9, is a full day of fun, food and frivolity. Get an early start at the pancake breakfast, served from 6 to 10:30 a.m. by the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department.
Then pick your spot along the parade route (see map and related story) and get ready for one of the best parades in the West.
"There will be a really good flyover to begin the parade," said Tristan. Look for a formation of planes, piloted by Don Gettis, Charlie Huff, Ron Duncan, Tracy Cheatham, Lynn French and maybe more. The CareFlight helicopter, piloted by Justin Fletcher, will also be part of the formation.
The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. At the conclusion of the parade, cheer on your favorite man-powered outhouse team in the always popular outhouse race down the street in front of Town Park.
The fun shifts to Town Park as "he-men" and women show off their strength during the hay bale races, set to begin at noon.
From 1-4 p.m. kids will have plenty of old-fashion pioneer things to do. "We will have kids hay bale races, relay races, watermelon eating
contest, tug of war and many other kids activities," said Tristan.
"Be sure to get the little ones a ride on the North Fork Ambulance kiddie train too!" she added. The NFA train is returning after taking a couple of years off.
While the kids are playing, the adults will be able to check out the many arts, crafts and food vendors set up in the park. More than 40 different booths are expected.
"We also have terrific music lineup," noted Tristan. During the afternoon musicians such as Jeneve Rose Mitchell, Beth Williams, Dave and Tamara Hauze and more will perform on the park stage.
Capping off Saturday's festivities will be the big fireworks show over Crawford Reservoir. Tristan said the folks at Crawford State Park are offering free admission all day Saturday, so don't hesitate to go over to the state park for a picnic and settle in to enjoy the fireworks. The Crawford Volunteer Fire Department will begin their spectacular show at dark (around 9:45 p.m.)
Wind up the festivities at the non-denominational Cowboy Church Service on Sunday at 10 a.m., followed by a free lunch in the town park. In the afternoon the Mayher-Onion Valley School is getting its "Historic Site" designation, and celebrating with an ice cream social from 2-4 p.m. at the school (see related story on page B1.)
"There is something for everyone in the family at Crawford Pioneer Days," said Tristan. "come and enjoy this old-fashioned, small town festival as we show you how 'there's no place like OUR home!"