Rifle readies for first Western Adventure Weekend
Rifle is turning over new leaves this fall season, and the inaugural Western Adventure Weekend is about to bring the community and its families together with a whole new set of escapades.
The four-day festival from Oct. 13-16 will feature live music, a block party, a hunting film tour at the Ute Events Center, a pumpkin hunt and woodcutting competition in Centennial Park, among other activities meant to appeal to all ages. The inspiration for this fall festival, according to event coordinator Bryan Oliver, is directly tied to the people and community of Rifle.
“We’re definitely listening to the businesses in the area and what they want,” he said. “I think a lot of what helps us is just listening to what the people want and how they want us to do the events.”
The adventure kick-starts with the 37th annual chili cook-off from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday. At $10 per person, the cook-off is offering much more than a bowl of chili. Apple pie is being added, along with the usual categories of guacamole and salsa, but some new prizes are also being added to the menu.
“Someone will walk away with $1,000, we are offering that as a raffle which you get with a paid ticket,” said Kasey Nispel, president and CEO of the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce. “And the new prize for our jalapeño eating contest is $100.”
Several free events will be offered through the weekend in addition to the cook-off. At no cost, attendees can enjoy up to 10 different hunting films at the Ute Theater including titles such as “Mile Marker Zero,” “Beyond the Roar” and “Chasing Ridgelines.”
The Rifle Heritage Center also will open its doors for an open house at no cost to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Other free fun includes a pumpkin hunt geared toward families with children and a wood cutting competition both taking place at Centennial Park. Wood cutting participants must be 18 years or older and are required to sign a waiver before beginning the competition. The fastest chopper gets to go home with a special prize.
“Whoever has the fastest chopping time gets a truckload full of free firewood already chopped by their fellow participants,” Bryan Oliver said.
Catering to Rifle’s younger residents is the Little Britches Rodeo, which will take place at the Garfield County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cost for this event has not yet been announced.
Businesses in Rifle are excited about the downtown block party, which will begin at noon Saturday and last until 4 p.m. The party will feature craft beers, free games offered by business owners and live music from Colorado indie band Jack+Jill.
“We want [businesses] to be a part of it, to bring people into town and kind of encourage them to maybe be a little more invested in their local economy,” said Cathleen Anthony, event organizer and assistant for the Greater Rifle Improvement Team.
The block party is free, although there is additional cost for beverages and refreshments offered at the event.
“This is a way to bring more of that fun back into business … and to get out there on the street with the people and get to know them and get to have more conversations with them,” Oliver said.
The block party will result in a closure Saturday of the 100 block of East Third Street. Though there will be no parking available on East Third, all other street parking will be available, as well as lots on Second and Fourth streets. Detour navigation will center around Railroad Avenue and Whiteriver Avenue, and crosswalks will also be available for pedestrian use.
Business operators had only positive things to say regarding the temporary closure of East Third.
Joanne Nelson, of the Midland Arts Company, said that previous closures of Third Street did wonders for her business.
“It’s definitely a positive impact for our business … when it was closed for Rifle Rendezvous, we had over 200 people in and out of the store that day,” she said.
Sam Young, owner of Whistle Pig Coffee Stop and Cafe, looks forward to the festival.
“I think it’s going to be a different activity than we’ve ever had before. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for the community.”
“I think it’s great. When Third Street closes, Rifle comes out,” added Lauren Boebert, owner of Shooters Grill and Smokehouse 1776.
To finish off the fun Saturday, music will be available for enjoyment at the Ute Events Center with Symphony in the Valley, directed by Kelly Thompson. There is a small fee for attending the symphony; however, that price has not yet been set.
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