Winter Carnival street events keep traditions alive in Steamboat
February 8, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Even after 101 years, some things never change at the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival.
The story is that Winter Carnival was started as a way for local ranchers to take a break from the harsh winters and come into town to enjoy one another's company. These days, traveling to Winter Carnival no longer may require hours-long trips on horseback, but it still serves an important purpose.
"We catch up with people we haven't talked to all winter," Shane Yeager said. "Our conversations get interrupted by pulling kids down the street."
The Yeagers are one of a few families that have made participating in the Winter Carnival a proud family tradition. After some discussion among relatives, the consensus was the Yeagers have been pulling skiers down Lincoln Avenue for the past 90 years.
“It’s fun for us to be a part of the tradition and be part of this whole thing,” said Shealynne Yeager, the seventh generation to be born and raised in Routt County. “It’s pretty unique here. We look forward to it.”
Shealynne Yeager, a 2011 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, said she was riding horses before she could walk. She skied in the street events before she started pulling in them when she was 12 years old. Her dad, Shane Yeager, also skied in the events as a kid but decided to get on a horse and pull the skiers starting when he was 8.
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"I skied for a while, and these guys wanted to kill me, so I started riding," Shane Yeager said, to which his daughter replied, "Me, too."
Shealynne Yeager said the donkey jump competition always is a highlight during street events because everyone in the family wants the skiers they're pulling to win by having them launch the farthest off the jump.
"It's a big competition between us," she said.
Another crowd favorite is the shovel race event, in which adults ride a shovel down Lincoln Avenue while being pulled by a horse.
Doug Wheeler, anther longtime rider, said he brought the shovel race event to Winter Carnival.
"The first couple of years, it was just a couple of us in the family that were big enough to do it," Wheeler said.
He recalled one year when Shane Yeager took the shovel race a step further and went off the donkey jump.
"No one else has done it since," Wheeler said.
Street events continue from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by the Diamond Hitch Parade about 11:30 a.m.
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