Winter Carnival 2017: Steamboat Winter Carnival embodies Steamboat’s traditions of skiing, ranching and performing arts | SteamboatToday.com

Winter Carnival 2017: Steamboat Winter Carnival embodies Steamboat’s traditions of skiing, ranching and performing arts

Steamboat's holy triumvirate

A new generation represents the traditions of the Ladies' Recreation Club and the Winter Carnival tradition of the Diamond Hitch Parade.

— Sometimes, I wonder what old Carl Howelsen would think if he could return to Steamboat Springs to witness what the 21st century version of the Winter Carnival he started in 1914 looks like today.

It's safe to say he'd be bewildered by our gaudy skis and ski clothes. And don't ask me how I know it, but I think discovering that we've kept his dream alive would bring him to tears.

A significant piece of Steamboat history, which should not be overlooked, is that it was founding maven of the arts, Marjorie Perry, who persuaded Howelsen to move on to Steamboat from Hot Sulphur Springs (where he originally started a Winter Carnival).

As the story goes, Perry, who co-founded Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, had a chance introduction to Howelsen on the railroad platform in Hot Sulphur. Howelsen accepted her invitation to come to Steamboat, and the course of Steamboat history forever linked Steamboat's ski tradition with its appreciation for the performing arts.

It didn't take long for the ranching community to embrace both Winter Carnival and the arts, cementing Steamboat's "holy trinity."

Howelsen succeeded in forging the love of winter sports into this community at the cellular level, and today, skiing and local culture are inseparable. That said, favored events have always come and gone from Winter Carnival while the core of the tradition is preserved. I still regret the demise of the chariot races at the rodeo grounds.

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In the category of Winter Carnival revivals, snow sculptures make a welcome return to Lincoln Avenue for Steamboat Springs' 104th Winter Carnival Feb. 8 to 12 after a hiatus in 2016.

However, Winter Carnival will always be the celebration that affirms Steamboat's cowboy skiing roots.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Find the meaning of Winter Carnival

• The Diamond Hitch Parade, the Night Extravaganza and the Steamboat Springs High School skiing band remain indispensable to Winter Carnival.

• Is there any doubt Jon Banks, performing as the “Lighted Man,” has shot more fireworks out of his backpack (while skiing) than anyone on the planet? You have to see it to believe it.

• If you want to find traditional Nordic ski jumping at Winter Carnival, head straight for the children’s competition at Howelsen Hill. You’re sure to be inspired by the sight of fiercely competitive little girls popping off the jump while wearing tutus and with artificial flowers sticking out of their helmet vents.