Tread begins Brown Bag series

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The Tread of Pioneers Museum has corralled yet another engaging group of speakers for the summer's annual Brown Bag Lecture Series. The Friday discussions, which start today, feature topics as diverse as archaeology, historic preservation, cowboy poetry and insight into the museum's Navajo weaving collection.

The series will stay true to its roots by featuring several longtime residents who have seen a lot of changes in the Yampa Valley. The spirit of residents talking about local history was what initially inspired the Brown Bag program, and the museum has a video library of lunchtime talks dating back to 1998.

Dr. Bill Baldwin, a retired large-animal veterinarian, will start the series today with his stories about growing up on a Routt County ranch from 1940 to 1960. On July 23, rancher Lewis Kemry will take a more expansive view of life as a local rancher, discussing the 80 years of change he has seen in a lifetime of cattle ranching.

Elaine Gay of Green Creek Ranch in Pleasant Valley will make her third Brown Bag appearance Aug.13, to coincide with the opening of a Tread of Pioneers Museum exhibit featuring the Gay family.

"She is a very engaging speaker," museum curator Kelly Bastone said. Gay plans to specifically talk about her family's exhibit, including the memorabilia and artifacts that will be on display.

The Brown Bag series is taking a new creative turn this year, as well. On July 9, musician and cowboy poet Steve Jones will tell historic tales about the Yampa Valley and sing original songs he has written about the area.

After Jones, Susan DeWardt will teach a writing workshop July 16 to help get family histories on paper. It will be a "how to" session for writing family histories and memoirs. DeWardt's talk is designed as a jumping off point to help people get started and go more in-depth. The talk also may seed a more expanded memoir-writing series at the museum in the near future, Bastone said.

The rest of the speakers touch on a diverse array of local topics.

Angie KenCairn, a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist, will be talking July 30, about archaeological sites that show human habitation in the Yampa Valley dating back nearly 11,000 years. Reflecting the valley's more recent history, on Aug. 20, Jan Kaminski will discuss the architectural styles that are represented in and around Steamboat and opportunities for historic preservation.

Paul Bonnifield, a former rodeo rider and ranch hand, is slated to talk about the precarious business of breaking wild horses Aug. 6.

"He's got a reputation for taking on crazy wild horses that no one wanted to deal with," Bastone said.

The Brown Bag series wraps up Aug. 27, with Bastone, the museum's new curator, talking about her specialty -- Navajo weaving. This is a way to get acquainted not only with the new curator, but also the museum's collection of Navajo rugs and blankets that rarely find room for display. The collection was donated by Hayden residents Farrington and Eunice Carpenter in 1961, along with Ute baskets and a Puebla pot.

Bastone called the collection "extraordinary."

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