Party to observe retailer's birthday

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Steamboat Springs will welcome 11,215 visitors to town this weekend, and residents are invited to rediscover the old-fashioned community picnic in the midst of all the tourists.

That means sack races, checkers, pitching horseshoes, square dancing and cowboy music.

The first Downtown Hoedown is being held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of F.M. Light & Sons, a landmark Lincoln Avenue business. The hoedown is from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Eighth and Oak streets.

One of the principals of F.M. Light & Sons, Ty Lockhart, said he expects the Hoedown to continue beyond his business's centennial and become an annual event under the umbrella of Main Street Steamboat. Lockhart is a member of Main Street's board of directors.

Main Street Executive Director Tracy Barnett said the Hoedown fits well within the organization's goal of putting more feet on downtown streets and strengthening the downtown commercial district's relationship with residents and visitors.

When F.M. Light & Sons asked for help hosting the party, Barnett and other Main Street volunteers agreed to pitch in. For Barnett, that meant she spent part of Thursday unloading 16 cases of sheet cakes and six buckets of frosting needed to make a 100-foot-long birthday cake.

With the Triple Crown Sports Youth Baseball World Series taking place in Steamboat this week, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association expects more than 11,000 guests to be here overnight Saturday for the second Saturday in a row.

Mountain condominiums are 74 percent full, and U.S. Highway 40 motels are 95 percent full this weekend. The projected number of visitors is up about 1,100 from the corresponding Saturday night in 2004.

Looking ahead, midweek tourism will slip July 27 to about 8,600 visitors. That compares with more than 10,000 visitors at midweek last year. However, the Chamber's lodging barometer already foresees more than 11,000 people in town during the last weekend in July.

The hoedown is free and will be held in the municipal parking lot on Eighth Street. There will be live music by the Yampa Valley Boys, and square-dance caller Pat McBride is coming from Grand Junction to inspire dancers.

Party guests will be able to purchase barbecued food and beverages, including beer.

Barnett is determined to help Steamboat residents rediscover the simple games of their childhoods during the hoedown. She's arranged for Hula-Hoops, jacks, old-fashioned jump-ropes and three-legged races. Also, hopscotch patterns will be chalked onto pavement, and Routt County 4-H clubs will host a petting zoo.

People who don't want to get out of their seats can settle down to a game of checkers.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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