Thursday, February 1, 2001
Steamboat Springs Come rain, sleet, snow or no snow, the carnival street events have gone on for 96 years.
These events often get the most attention as children are dragged down the streets by the horses, dogs, and their dads.
It's all in great fun, though.
More than 400 tons of snow is dumped and smoothed out on Steamboat's main street, Lincoln Avenue.
Local ranchers bring in their horses and drag kids through a number of events, including a little ski jump and a slalom course.
Tourists line the street as well as locals who are there to cheer and laugh at their friends and family members.
Local rancher, 61-year-old Patsy Wilhelm, has been pulling kids since she was 9 years old. One would think after getting kicked last year by a horse she would finally retire.
"Oh heavens no," said Wilhelm, who has a pin in her shin after the doctor fixed her broken leg. "Every year I think I'm too old to do it, then I do it again."
There have been some memorable happenings.
Wilhelm remembers when the race used to run from west to east on Lincoln Avenue and a rope was pulled across the street, rather close to the finish line.
"One time, Pat Robson's horse wouldn't stop and that rope laid him out," Wilhelm said. "We finally caught up with the horse. He was heading out of town."
Children from 6 to 14 can participate in the horse events, but they have to preregister at the Steamboat Chamber Feb. 1-9. The contestants are mostly locals, but visitors are welcome to join the fun. There's also the shovel race where adults can have fun themselves as they ride on a shovel pulled by a horse.
There is no registration for non-horse events like the dog and dad dash. In the dog race, children 5 and under are pulled in a sled or toboggan by the family dog. Following that event, the Dad Dash has fathers pulling their child on all fours.
"Sometimes last minute, people join up and it's so spontaneous. People get a kick out of that," said Dean Vogelaar, a local who has worked the street events.
"It's genuine, small town, it's like the Fourth of July," he said.
Not to mention it's a chance for ranchers to take a mid-winter break, the original reason Winter Carnival was started.
"It's fun for us too," said rancher Rick Wilhelm. "You get to ride the horses, which you don't do much of in the winter."