Craig’s Grand Olde West Days a fun festival with new, old cowboy traditions | SteamboatToday.com

Craig’s Grand Olde West Days a fun festival with new, old cowboy traditions

26th annual event sees changes for Memorial Day weekend happenings

Andy Bockelman

— For a quarter-century, the kickoff to summer has been a grand thing to behold in Northwest Colorado.

The 26th annual Grand Olde West Days takes place this weekend, bringing in a huge schedule of cowboy and cowgirl activities for Memorial Day weekend.

2016 Grand Olde West Days and Memorial Day schedule

• Thursday

5 to 11 p.m. Brown's Amusements Carnival

• Friday

4 p.m. to midnight Brown's Amusements Carnival

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6 p.m. National Anthem Kickoff

6 to 8 p.m. Iron Man Ranch Bronc Riding — Rounds one and two

6 to 10 p.m. Beer garden

8 to 10 p.m. The Cold Fire performance and karaoke

10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Kenny Feidler performance, Cassidy's Bar & Lounge

• Saturday

10 a.m. Yampa Valley Antique Power Club tractor pulls, Fourth and Ranney streets

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vendor hall, family activities, shoot-out demonstration

11 a.m. to midnight Brown's Amusements Carnival

3 p.m. Downtown parade, Yampa Avenue and Victory Way

4 to 6 p.m. Iron Man Ranch Bronc Riding — Rounds three through five

4 to 10 p.m. Beer garden

5:30 p.m. Iron Woman Bronc Riding Invitational

5:30 p.m. Yampa River Ranch Rodeo rustler's relay demonstration

8 p.m. Tris Munsick & The Innocents performance

9 to 10:30 p.m. Chancey Williams & The Younger Brothers Band performance

• Sunday

8 a.m. JK Bar Bible Ranch, Cowboy Church

8 to 10 a.m. Breakfast burritos by Moffat County High School wrestling

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Moffat County Horse Power Draft Horse and Mule Show

10 a.m. Yampa Valley Antique Power Club tractor pulls, Fourth and Ranney streets

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vendor hall, family activities, shoot-out demonstration

Noon to 9 p.m. Brown's Amusements Carnival

1 p.m. Road Kill Cook-Off entries due

2 p.m. Road Kill Cook-Off judging

4 to 8 p.m. Yampa River Ranch Rodeo

4 to 10 p.m. Beer garden

8:30 to 10 p.m. The Two Tracks and JShogren Shanghai'd performance

10 p.m. to midnight Tris Munsick & The Innocents performance

• Monday

7:30 a.m. Connections 4 Kids 5K Walk/Run

8 to 10 a.m. Pancake breakfast by Bear River Young Life

9 a.m. to noon Moffat County Horse Power Draft Horse and Mule Show

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendor hall

11 a.m. Craig Memorial Day services, Craig Cemetery

Noon Brown's Amusements Carnival

Noon to 4 p.m. Beer garden

1 p.m. GOWD Memorial Day services

2 p.m. Maybell Memorial Day services, Maybell Cemetery

3 to 4 p.m. David Morris original play — "An Old West Craig Crime Spree"

— All events take place at Moffat County Fairgrounds unless otherwise noted. Tickets for GOWD events can be purchased in advance at grandoldewestdays.com for reduced prices. Carnival tickets are sold separately and must be purchased at the gate. Play tickets are $1 apiece at the door.

Some things remain the same after many years, such as the presence of Brown's Amusements Carnival, a separate yet indispensable operation set up at Moffat County Fairgrounds through Monday.

However, this year the site will be hopping the entire weekend as the majority of the happenings go down at the fairgrounds, an alteration from previous years that culminated as downtown street festival.

While the streets of central Craig will still see some hustle and bustle with things like Saturday's parade along Yampa Avenue and Victory Way and the Yampa Valley Antique Power Club's tractor pulls at the corner of Fourth and Ranney streets, the main events will take place east of town.

Changing the event’s location to the fairgrounds is an effort to accommodate the recurrence of precipitation that often hits at the end of May, said committee member Melody Villard.

The nickname "Grand Olde Wet Days" is the result of many years of being hampered by poor weather, and having more indoor options this year, such as a vendor hall beneath the grandstands, was a way to combat that and have a great deal of space.

"We have plenty of room to spread out and plenty of cover if it does rain," Villard said.

She added that previous organizer Kandee Dilldine provided a great deal of information after stepping down last year.

"It's the 26th year for Grand Olde West Days, but it's almost like we're starting from ground zero," Villard said. "We've had some great support this year."

Villard has been working with new organizer Doyle O'Neil and fellow committee members to revamp the yearly event, such as a social media facelift and overall online presence that allows people to purchase tickets through the GOWD website.

"A lot of people on this team put a lot of work into it, and it's very important for the community of Craig and Moffat County," O'Neil said.

This year includes an overhaul of the usual lineup with a great emphasis on the rodeo arena.

Last year introduced the Iron Man Bronc Riding and the double-sanctioned Yampa River Ranch Rodeo to the area in early May, and with the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association Finals no longer taking part in Craig during the holiday weekend, the dates were open to the Iron Man and Ranch Rodeo, as well as the Iron Woman Bronc Riding Invitational, all three filling the stands Saturday and Sunday.

Moffat County Horse Power will also show off the area's draft horses and mules Sunday and Monday, with organizer Mardi Anson inviting all in the crowd to get up close and personal between rounds with the equine stars of the show.

However, the fairgrounds will host more than just those with hooves and their handlers, with multiple musical acts lined up for the weekend.

Friday's opening performance by Nick Cocozzella — aka The Cold Fire — will feature an acoustic start to the festivities, complete with karaoke, while an after-party show by Kenny Feidler at Cassidy's Bar & Lounge follows for the night owls.

Entertainer Chad Prather will be popping up in many places throughout GOWD, including serving as the grand marshal of Saturday's parade, which will be led off by local veterans. An online and TV humor personality, motivational speaker and all-around cowboy character from Texas by way of Georgia, Prather will add a lot to the event as an emcee, Villard said.

"One of the cool things is he'll be pretty accessible throughout the weekend, people can come up and say hey, and he'll be announcing in the crow's nest for the rodeo," Villard said.

Saturday night will bring in country entertainment with Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band. Williams, a Wyoming native, is well-known not only for his music but also being one of only two people to both compete in the rodeo and perform onstage as part of Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Opening for Williams' group will be Tris Munsick & the Innocents, of Sheridan, Wyoming, who will also perform Sunday night following fellow Sheridan country group The Two Tracks and JShogren Shanghai'd, of Centennial, Wyoming, practitioners of "Catawampus American music."

During the daylight hours Sunday, activities like Cowboy Church by JK Bar Bible Ranch, breakfast burritos provided by Moffat County High School wrestlers, a beer garden and a pie-eating contest.

Additionally, the Road Kill Cook-Off, which is still accepting applicants, will be a new element as chefs of all experience levels submit creative appetizers, entrees, desserts and specialty chili dishes, a contest that will continue this summer as part of Victory Motors' Drive Against Cancer.

Memorial Day itself will likewise be packed with the Connections 4 Kids 5K Walk/Run, a Bear River Young Life pancake breakfast and an original play by David Morris, "An Old West Craig Crime Spree," fitting perfectly with the cowboy theme.

Amid all the other hubbub, Grand Olde West Days organizers also hope people will keep in mind the men and women who fought for their freedom.

An 11 a.m. ceremony performed by local veterans at Craig Cemetery for fallen soldiers will be followed by an afternoon session at the fairgrounds, as well as a separate ceremony in Maybell to further acknowledge those in Moffat County who have served.

"They're the reason for the season, absolutely," Villard noted of the traditions to keep in mind during the three-day weekend.

For more information on individual events or tickets, visit grandoldewestdays.com or Facebook.com/GrandOldeWestDays.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

2016 Grand Olde West Days and Memorial Day schedule

• Thursday

5 to 11 p.m. Brown’s Amusements Carnival

• Friday

4 p.m. to midnight Brown’s Amusements Carnival

6 p.m. National Anthem Kickoff

6 to 8 p.m. Iron Man Ranch Bronc Riding — Rounds one and two

6 to 10 p.m. Beer garden

8 to 10 p.m. The Cold Fire performance and karaoke

10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Kenny Feidler performance, Cassidy’s Bar & Lounge

• Saturday

10 a.m. Yampa Valley Antique Power Club tractor pulls, Fourth and Ranney streets

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vendor hall, family activities, shoot-out demonstration

11 a.m. to midnight Brown’s Amusements Carnival

3 p.m. Downtown parade, Yampa Avenue and Victory Way

4 to 6 p.m. Iron Man Ranch Bronc Riding — Rounds three through five

4 to 10 p.m. Beer garden

5:30 p.m. Iron Woman Bronc Riding Invitational

5:30 p.m. Yampa River Ranch Rodeo rustler’s relay demonstration

8 p.m. Tris Munsick & The Innocents performance

9 to 10:30 p.m. Chancey Williams & The Younger Brothers Band performance

• Sunday

8 a.m. JK Bar Bible Ranch, Cowboy Church

8 to 10 a.m. Breakfast burritos by Moffat County High School wrestling

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Moffat County Horse Power Draft Horse and Mule Show

10 a.m. Yampa Valley Antique Power Club tractor pulls, Fourth and Ranney streets

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vendor hall, family activities, shoot-out demonstration

Noon to 9 p.m. Brown’s Amusements Carnival

1 p.m. Road Kill Cook-Off entries due

2 p.m. Road Kill Cook-Off judging

4 to 8 p.m. Yampa River Ranch Rodeo

4 to 10 p.m. Beer garden

8:30 to 10 p.m. The Two Tracks and JShogren Shanghai’d performance

10 p.m. to midnight Tris Munsick & The Innocents performance

• Monday

7:30 a.m. Connections 4 Kids 5K Walk/Run

8 to 10 a.m. Pancake breakfast by Bear River Young Life

9 a.m. to noon Moffat County Horse Power Draft Horse and Mule Show

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendor hall

11 a.m. Craig Memorial Day services, Craig Cemetery

Noon Brown’s Amusements Carnival

Noon to 4 p.m. Beer garden

1 p.m. GOWD Memorial Day services

2 p.m. Maybell Memorial Day services, Maybell Cemetery

3 to 4 p.m. David Morris original play — “An Old West Craig Crime Spree”

— All events take place at Moffat County Fairgrounds unless otherwise noted. Tickets for GOWD events can be purchased in advance at grandoldewestdays.com for reduced prices. Carnival tickets are sold separately and must be purchased at the gate. Play tickets are $1 apiece at the door.