Paul and Ellen Bonnifield dance a two-step Sunday afternoon at Oak Creek's Decker Park. Community members gathered at the park for a Labor Day barbecue.

Photo by Scott Franz

Paul and Ellen Bonnifield dance a two-step Sunday afternoon at Oak Creek's Decker Park. Community members gathered at the park for a Labor Day barbecue.

Oak Creek community comes out for festivities

Town hosts Labor Day barbecue

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South Routt community members enjoy a picnic Sunday at Oak Creek's Decker Park.

— In an open field in Oak Creek’s Decker Park, Paul and Ellen Bonnifield did something they try do every Labor Day weekend.

They danced.

“Today I feel like dancing,” Paul said after two-stepping with his wife of 41 years to a tune played by the Green Ridge Ramblers. “Today is a day to celebrate.”

The Bonnifields and about 40 other South Routt community members gathered at Decker Park on Sunday night for a barbecue hosted by the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg.

As they finished setting up for the annual picnic, it was hard for the organizers to remember how long the Historical Society had brought the community together on Labor Day.

“We’ve been playing here at least 13 or 14 years,” Green Ridge Ramblers singer Doug DeCosta said. “And it’s just peaceful and fun every year. I’ve enjoyed watching my kids grow up here.”

Residents and visitors young and old enjoyed live music and homemade cooking as they paid tribute to Oak Creek’s past.

Tracks and Trails Museum curator Nita Naugle said the gathering was a time for friends and family to slow down and enjoy one another’s company.

“A lot of times we get so busy in the hustle and bustle of our lives we forget to relax and have the traditional celebration of friends, family and community,” she said. “That’s what this celebration is all about for me.”

She said Labor Day has continued to play an important role in Oak Creek decades after it was celebrated by the area’s mining unions.

“We’re still doing some of the same things here that we did when the holiday started,” Naugle said.

The community barbecue was preceded by historical tours of the town that covered its mining past and its downtown area.

Rodney Phillips, who traveled to Oak Creek with his son Caleb, from Ardmore, Okla., had never stepped foot in Colorado before this Labor Day weekend. He said he found Sunday’s gathering charming.

“I’ve found Oak Creek to be a delightful small town, and I’m impressed with how friendly and personable people are,” he said at the start of the picnic. “I think the things like this that happen in small towns are a lot more fun. Everybody here seems to know each other.”

Oak Creek’s Labor Day festivities continue Monday with a parade downtown at 11 a.m. The celebration continues with bingo at the Oak Creek Fire Station, and a greased pole competition at the park at 3 p.m.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com

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