Yampa tradition keeps families and friends coming back for more | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa tradition keeps families and friends coming back for more

Jack Weinstein

— Yampa's Fourth of July festivities were started years ago to bring the community together. It still works.

Hundreds of South Routt residents and visitors lined Main Street on Monday afternoon for the annual Fourth of July parade in the small South Routt town. They watched a procession of community groups and organizations make its way down the street while throwing candy to dozens of children and their families.

Volunteers estimated that they served between 400 and 600 beef and hot dog plates at the picnic that immediately followed at South Routt Elementary School.

"You don't come here on the Fourth of July to see a lot of stuff going on," said resident Jody Vetter, who chaired the committee for the town's Fourth of July festivities in 1976. "You come to see your friends. There's a lot of that going on."

Karen and Dan Craig made the short trip from Phippsburg to spend the day with their son, Brandon, daughter in-law, Chrissy, and grandchildren Cameron, 3, and Wyatt, 2. Karen Craig said they come to town almost every year for the festivities.

"It's just fun to get together and see everybody," she said. "I taught school here for 30 years. I get to see some of my old students. And the grandkids."

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Even some people unfamiliar with Yampa attended the parade.

Yaisa and Nathan Banek were spending the weekend camping near Gore Pass with their children Luka, 7, Liese, 9, and Mya, 9, and their English mastiff, Karl. Yaisa Banek said they heard about the town's festivities at the Toponas County General Store.

"It was fun being in a small town and seeing a small-town parade," she said.

Resident Rita Herold said Yampa's Fourth of July festivities date back to the late 1800s. She said they included rodeo events and a baseball game against teams from Steamboat Springs or Hayden. Herold said the town's festivities stopped for several decades at some point, but she wasn't sure when.

Montgomery's General Merchandise owner Ken Montgomery said 11 residents gathered in 1976 in the back of the old Town Hall to discuss celebrating Colorado's centennial and the United States' bicentennial. He said each donated $1 to get things started.

That year the festivities included the parade, a picnic, an old-time bucking horse contest featuring local cowboys, a hay-stacking contest, a two-man crosscut saw contest, an irrigating horse race, a dance and a fireworks show.

"We were just planning to do it for the centennial and bicentennial," Montgomery said. "But everybody enjoyed it so much. Different people have kept it going."

In addition to the parade and picnic, a horse polo event was held Monday afternoon. And the fireworks took were scheduled to start at nightfall.

Jamie Amrein, who grew up in Yampa and now lives in Oak Creek, said he's come to most of the town's annual Independence Day festivities. Now he brings his wife, Toni, and children, Sydnie, 11, Jesse, 10, and Elyza, 8, to visit with friends and celebrate.

Toni Amrein said the annual holiday has become more than just a community gathering.

"Fourth of July is Yampa's holiday," she said. "Oak Creek does Labor Day. Those are South Routt traditions."

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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