Residents get Taste of South Routt

Fifth annual Oak Creek event evolves into festival

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Oak Creek Police Chief Tim Willert sat anxiously on a metal seat suspended above a dunk tank. He was still dry. He gripped the fence in front of him and grimaced as each pitch came.

"I'm already getting frostbite," he said, his feet dangled in the water.

Then suddenly, someone smacked the bulls-eye and sent Willert tumbling into the tank of cold water.

After a barrage of perfect pitches from the Longmont Rebels boys' baseball team, Willert seemed to get used to the dunking.

"It's starting to feel good now," he said, smiling.

The dunk tank was one of many booths set up at Saturday's sixth annual Taste of South Routt festival. For $1, people received three pitches at the target. Mayor Cargo Rodeman also volunteered to be dunked.

The festival, held at Decker Park in Oak Creek for the fifth time, featured 30 booths.

Taste of South Routt organizer David Bonfiglio said the purpose of the festival has evolved since its inception.

"(Initially) businesses gave samples of what they do to build a year-round business," Bonfiglio said. The festival is a great way for South Routt residents to familiarize themselves with businesses they had never patronized before, he said.

Barb Gehl, treasurer for the Economic Development Council, agreed that the event is a good opportunity for businesses in South Routt.

"(We) try to encourage people to shop at home and not go to Steamboat all the time," Gehl said. "We can try to promote economic development for businesses."

But both said that the true value of the festival has become the community interaction it provides.

"(You) see your neighbors you don't always get to see," Bonfiglio said. "As it grew, it became just as much a give-back to the community. It's just fun."

Gehl said many South Routt residents come out every year to enjoy the festivities.

"It's gotten to be a really good turnout," she said. "People generally have a really good time."

Stagecoach resident Suzy Pattillo was eager to return to the festival to paint faces again.

"I had the kids lined up (last year)," she said.

Pattillo said she made $30 painting faces at the event last year, and she spent all of her profits the same day at other festival booths.

But she was content to break even.

"It was a blast," she said.

This year, the festival featured food booths from South Routt restaurants and a variety of other booths hosted by businesses in the area.

Bonfiglio's booth for his drug store, Bonfiglio Drug and Soda Fountain, served snow cones.

The proceeds from the dunk tank went to the LIFT-UP food bank of South Routt.

Many booths were aimed at children, such as the face painting area and the quarter toss.

Bonfiglio said a number of nonprofit groups came out to fund-raise this year.

The Oak Creek police and fire departments participated, as well.

As firefighters sprayed a fire hose into the air, children quickly gathered to run through the water.

Stage organizer Dave Moran told the crowd to sign up for prizes.

The festival received more than $2,000 worth of gifts to give away.

"Everyone get a beer, get a bite to eat, sit back and have some fun," Moran said into the microphone.

The Humble Pickers, a Steamboat Springs bluegrass band, performed on the stage at 3 p.m.

The proceeds from admissions, which were $1 for adults, went to the Economic Development Council.

The council sponsored the festival with the help of KBCR, Soroco schools and merchants, The Colorado Bar, Montgomery's General Merchandise, Chelsea's, Toponas Country General Store, Taylor-Made Dinty Moore's Pizza, Pisa's Pizza and Pasta, Bonfiglio Drug, Select Super grocery store and the town of Oak Creek.

Bonfiglio said everyone who participated kept their own profits, and there was no rental fee for tent space.


-- To reach Erin Ragan call 871-4232

or e-mail intern@steamboatpilot.com

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