by Rick Langenberg:
Talk about a well-deserved tradition and a great time for a celebration.
The 75th annual Bronc Day Festival will land in Green Mountain Falls this Saturday (Aug 3) for a bigger and better event due to a new partnership between the festival committee and the revived Ute Pass Triangle Chamber of Commerce.
Plus, the event comes on the heels of the Green Box Arts Festival, capped by the impressive Cloud City display (once featured on top of the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City) and much interest in GMF and the lower Ute Pass. With the help of the chamber, the area has gotten more aggressive in showcasing special events, running the gamut from car shows and unique cultural performances, to band concerts and parades. “It’s been a good summer,” said Amily Beidelman-Almy, who heads the Ute Pass Triangle Chamber Commerce. She also sees the new partnership between the Bronc Day Committee, headed this year by Vickie McNight, and the chamber as a big community boon. In addition, the new chamber has sought to bring all three communities (Green Mountain Falls, Cascade and Chipita Park) together. “We have exceeded our fund-raising expectations,” said Beidelman-Almy, who also owns and operates the Muck Duck restaurant. “Interest is very strong in the event.”
And now, local civic leaders say it’s time to have a local celebration.
“I am amazed at all the hard work that goes into a one day event. It is a labor of love by the committee and volunteers to the community of Green Mountain Falls and its surrounding neighbors,” said McNight in describing this year’s festival. “I invite one and all to come and feel the presence of family, community and just plain old fun in the mountains of Ute Pass! I guarantee you will go home smiling” she added.
Bronc Day couldn’t come at a better time. Although GMF has featured many visitors this summer, the town has experienced its share of political turmoil. Local council meetings have sometimes turned into shouting matches, with talk already circulating about recalls and public information requests. Plus, concerns about flooding in the Waldo Canyon burn scar have scared some Colorado Springs visitors away, who are afraid of traveling up and down the Pass following a rain storm.
But for this Saturday, all the local political angst and emergency alerts will be put to rest. “This is really a great example of how the community can come together,” said Beidelman-Almy. In fact, a recent fund-raiser at the Mucky Duck restaurant featured political and civic political leaders and residents, who don’t always see eye-to-eye, toasting wine glasses and enjoying great appetizers as part of a preliminary Bronc Day celebration.
The Event Lineup
The 2013 festival will kick off with a pancake breakfast at the fire station, starting at 7 a.m. Then, the big parade rolls down the main part of town at 10 a.m. The parade features the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard wearing the blue and yellow authentic 1874 pattern 3rd Cavalry Regiment uniforms.
A special addition this year is the Sister Nations Color Guard composed
of Native American women army veterans representing various
Tribal Nations. According to McNight, the Sister Nations Colorado Guard even performed for President Obama’s inauguration ceremony, following his 2012 re-election.
The parade Grand Marshals this year are long time summer residents John and Modenia Kramer. In prior years, Modenia has delighted spectators with her elaborate period costumes and by leading groups of marching and singing temperance ladies.
Also in the parade are The Al Kaly Pipe & Drum Corps, fire engines, floats, antique cars, clowns, cowboys, Indians, gunfighters, and kids on decorated bicycles.
Altogether, the vastly improved parade will sport nearly 50 various participants and groups, some of whom will display impressive floats. According to veteran Bronc Day organizers, the annual festival parade marks probably the biggest improvement in the event, compared to five years ago. Also, this year’s parade will feature a lot more horses. That factor will probably attract more crowds as GMF’s scenic setting is ideal for a parade procession.
Besides the parade, Bronc Day features fun for the whole family,
including a rubber duckie race, kid’s games, and a radio controlled model boat race on the Gazebo lake. There will also be a 26 foot-high air slide and Disney bouncer. Festival-goers can also view the infamous Tincan Campers, which once dotted Green Mountain Falls in the 1930s and 1940s. These little campers were previously used by local families for recreation. Two or three of these great relics will be on display during the festival.
The Bronc Day entertainment includes Buck Goucher, a renowned Country & Western artist, Native American Indians performing tribal dances, and the Rocky Mountain gunfighters show. Multiple Arts & crafts and food booths will line the lake shore.
Reliving a tradition
Bronc Day is a GMF tradition that just won’t die, despite encountering growing competition from the region “We have a lot of heroes with this event,” said Dick Bratton, a long-time resident and former mayor and Bronc Day Committee Chairman, who helped revive the event nearly 10 years ago. With growing difficulty in attracting parade participants, some skeptics considered pulling the plug on Bronc Day altogether.
But Bratton and a group of civic leaders opted to keep the festival going, even if the event was a little smaller. A number of local business operators joined the campaign and devised more fun, family-filled events to provide extra festivities outside of the parade. “It was just too big of a tradition to let go,” said Bratton. According to history author Jan Pettit, Bronc Day had its genesis in the summer of 1939 when a few locals grew impatient over the lack of activity in the tiny GMF town. As Pettit explained, “Sallie Bush and Harry Dively were sitting on Sallie’s front steps and they decided the town was dead. ‘Let’s start something,’ they thought. And they did. They started the first Bronc Day. They gathered up as many people on horseback as they could to celebrate the ‘Official Opening of the Tourist Season.’ Over 100 people on horses showed up. They rode down to Cascade and met the Vertical Mile Marathon Racers who were training for a race up Pikes Peak. They escorted them in a parade, with a clown and queen to Green Mountain Falls where a grand celebration took place.”
Seventy five years later, the celebration still thrives. Like many local festivals, it has featured its ups and down. But according to Bratton, many current business owners and residents are responsible for keeping the tradition alive. And besides Bronc Day, this weekend is a prime time for visiting the Ute Pass. Woodland Park features its 28th annual Mountain Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the Ute Pass Cultural Center. And on Saturday, jazz, food and wine buffs can enjoy the sixth annual Vino and Notes event in Woodland’s Memorial Park, sponsored by the Cellar Door and a number of local businesses. For more information on these latter events, check out this week’s Mountain Almanac.