Steamboat Springs The Routt County rural scene these days is less of the lone cowhand on his horse and more of the Friday casual real estate agent driving down gravel roads with multimillion-dollar offers to buy the ranch and all its acreage.
Sadly, the scene continues with many owners trading the days of fence building and horse riding for a check.
"Most of the people in Routt County who are trying to make a living ranching have to work night jobs to make ends meet," said Tammie Delaney of the Routt County Cattlewomen. "When it comes to that kind of struggle versus the kind of money they can make from the real estate, it's an easy choice."
The Routt County Cattlewomen and Routt County Cattlemen are organizations formed to assist in the promotion of beef in an attempt to slow the disappearance of the family ranch in this area.
"What people don't realize is that this place is open and scenic because it is used for productive agriculture," Delaney said. "We want to get this message out."
Delaney plans to open the eyes of valley residents through an old-fashioned hoe down Saturday at the Carpenter Ranch.
The Wing Ding Hoe Down is a barbeque and dance in the tradition of the rural gathering that brought ranchers together only decades ago.
Delaney grew up in Routt County and she remembers this kind of event as part of the Carpenter Ranch tradition. The ranch is now owned by The Nature Conservancy but was settled originally in the early 1900s by Ferry Carpenter.
Carpenter, who passed away several years ago, authored the book "Confessions of a Maverick," a memoir of his life in rural Routt County.
He was famous for his large gatherings and big dances that would draw people from all the surrounding towns.
"Our event probably won't go all night as his were rumored to do," Delaney said, "but it will be in that spirit."
The Wing Ding Hoe Down is a fund-raiser for the Cattlewomen and Cattlemen and the Ski Town Lions Club.
Activities begin at 4 p.m., including a hay ride into the ranch. Attendees will be fed on valley-raised beef and there will be a cash bar. At 7 p.m., an auction will feature the painting "Bringing in the Strays," by Greg Effinger, an 18-hole round of gold at Catamount Ranch & Golf Club and fishing trips.
The Carpenter Ranch is at 13250 West U.S. 40. Advance ticket purchase is encouraged and are available through Thursday for $20 for adults, $8 for kids 6 and under, and kids younger than 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased at Elk River Farm & Feed, All That Jazz, Sugar Run, Land Title, Alpine Bank, Soda Creek Mercantile, First National Bank of the Rockies in Hayden and Craig, the Hayden Mercantile and Yampa Valley Feeds in Hayden. Tickets are available at the event for $25. For more information, call Tammie Delaney at 276-3436.