Photo by Zach Fridell
Bud Kier, 96, crowns 68-year-old Earl Harper, seated, as king of this year's Father's Day and Old-Timers Picnic on Sunday in McCoy. Kier is a previous king of the picnic and was recognized as the oldest attendee of Sunday's event.
McCoy From 96 to 2 years old, the old and young alike turned out for the 40th annual McCoy Father's Day and Old-Timers Picnic on Sunday at the McCoy Community Center.
The potluck lunch and raffle provided a living history lesson as longtime residents reminisced about their time growing up in McCoy and how the town of 200 - about 20 miles south of Yampa on Colorado Highway 131 - has changed throughout the years.
Joe Wieczorek was one of the many people who had once lived in McCoy and came back to catch up with old friends.
"Once you've lived here, it's kind of tight," he said. "It's not a normal community; we're very close."
Wieczorek went to middle school in McCoy and worked the nearby ranches as a young man. He said he comes from a long family tradition of working the railroads, and he was no exception, working on the rails for 25 years before he retired to Grand Junction.
He said he now comes back every year to see his classmates and friends.
"And for the memories," added his granddaughter, Taselyn.
"Yes, and for the memories," he agreed.
"Old-timers" Elmira Cock, 89, and Earl Harper, 68, were crowned queen and king of the event and shared their stories with the crowd. Cock moved to the area in 1964, while Harper has family lines in McCoy stretching back to the 1800s.
Many of the regular attendees also said the event has changed - and become smaller - over the years, as longtime residents pass away and fewer young families move into the region.
The original Old-Timers Picnic, in 1968, drew 202 people. Sunday's event had about 70 attendees.
Former resident Don Schrupp visited from Denver with his brother Drew. Records show the Schrupp family was awarded for having the most attendees at the first picnic and newspaper clippings from the time show five Schrupp sisters standing together - Don and Drew's aunts.
Since that time, all of the women pictured have passed away, and Drew and his five siblings have all left the area, he said.
Dale Horn, who ranches on top of Conger Mesa in what was once the Schrupp's farm, said the changes in population mean that newer residents may not feel the sense of community the old-timers remember.
"A lot of the old-timers have passed. It's fewer of the people born and raised here," he said. "It's not the same as when agriculture people lived here."
Wieczorek agreed but said the changes haven't affected McCoy as much as other communities.
"The ranches are still here. They haven't been divided into subdivisions," he said. "It's small enough it hasn't gotten ruined too bad yet."