Heat won't faze Hayden Daze

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Baseball players, from left, Levi Hallock, Jake Magee and Aaron Haskins enjoy a dinner honoring Hayden's past mayors and Town Board members in Exhibit Hall at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden on Saturday.

It's not every day you see a 9-foot clown wandering around downtown Hayden.

But the clown, Stretch, was just one of many interesting sights in Hayden on Saturday as the normally quiet town came out in mass for the Hayden Daze festival. The event, formerly known as Colorado Days, is the town's biggest of the year.

In the middle school parking lot, a massive yard sale took place as part of the "Benefit for Taylen Zabel" events that were made a part of Hayden Daze this year. Seven-year-old Taylen was diagnosed with a highly malignant brain tumor known as medulloblastoma April 9. The tumor was removed April 12. Taylen recently completed radiation treatment and will begin chemotherapy later this month. Friends of the Zabels hosted benefit events Saturday to help the family with the medical expenses associated with Taylen's treatment. In addition to the yard sale, there were a silent auction, dunk tank and live auction. There were dozens of donated items in the live auction, ranging from a quilt to an antelope hunt in Wyoming. Baby-blue T-shirts sporting Taylen's initials were worn by many at the festival.

Lynn Vedepo, one of the yard sale's organizers, said she didn't know how much money had been raised, but the yard sale had been successful. Donations also were accepted at the sale, and there was one as large as $500.

"It has been a huge response," Vedepo said. "People were here ready to start buying at 7:30 a.m."

The yard sale wasn't scheduled to start until 8 a.m. Vedepo said donations came from all across the Yampa Valley and included items such bikes, entertainment centers and refrigerators. By noon, the tarps the items were sitting on in the parking lot already were mostly empty.

At the Hayden Town Park, live music entertained the crowd that attended the Shrine BBQ. Alan Bennett of Craig, manned Bobby's Swamp Water Saloon, where 500 pounds of beef were cooked for the festival. Bennett said any leftover meat would be donated to local retirement homes. Proceeds from the barbecue will go toward children's hospitals.

"As long as we're raising money for the children, that's what our goal is," Bennett said.

According to Kathy Hockett, Hayden's parks and recreation director, the only thing that might have discouraged people from coming out to the festival was the heat, which reached the high 80s in Hayden on Saturday.

Diane Tune of Lakewood, who was in town visiting cousins, avoided the heat at a picnic table in the shade with a bottle of Corona. It was Tune's first visit to the festival, and she said she was enjoying it.

"It's wonderful," Tune said. I love sitting back here and watching everyone."

Despite extreme fire danger risks, the town still planned to hold a fireworks display Saturday night. Hockett said the town received clearance from West Routt Fire and will set off the fireworks from the future site of Dry Creek Park, which is under construction and is mostly a dirt field free of grass and other flammable materials. The festival concludes today with a pancake breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. at Hayden Town Park.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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