Blessing of the Animals honors summer solstice and blesses pets of all kinds | SteamboatToday.com

Blessing of the Animals honors summer solstice and blesses pets of all kinds

Liz Forster

Father Ernest Bayer

The last patches of snow are finally disappearing from the face of the mountain, tourists and locals are spending nights outside at the outdoor concert series and tubers are warming up to the once frigid waters of the Yampa. Summer is here, and, for the fourth year, so is the Blessing of the Animals.

One hundred people gathered Sunday night at the Howelsen Hill Rodeo Grounds with dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds and more to celebrate the summer solstice and offer their animals to Father Ernest Bayer, of Holy Name Catholic Church, for his blessing.

Some of the animals were injured, like Elmo, a bird who had his claw caught in the refrigerator door. Others, like the Colombo family's cat Socks, were blessed due to old age. The rest were supporters of their fellow animals, celebrating summer, sun and life with their owners.

"Father Ernest was the brainchild of this event a couple years ago in honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, ecology and Colorado," organizer Jo Lauter said. "Father Ernest says a prayer of every animal, whether that's 50, 100 or 200 animals of all sizes."

For the first year, Holy Name Catholic Church partnered with the Routt County Humane Society to support the programs the organization offers, as well as the animals they shelter.

"Holy Name is so great in sharing some of their donations with us, which we'll use at the animal shelter for animal care," said Maggie Smith, co-president of the Routt County Humane Society. "We have so many animals coming and going every day that we also need to pay for a veterinarian, microchips that go in every adopted animal and vaccinations."

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The Humane Society, which had taken over the town animal shelter this past May, had a table with a poster displaying the animals they had for adoption and information about their efforts.

With folk music by local musicians Wendy and John Dylan and catering by the Steamboat Smokehouse, the night was a blessing for the entire community, whether on two or four legs.

To reach Liz Forster, call 970-871-4374, email lforster@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @LizMForster

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