Burning Mountain Festival 2011: ‘That was then, this is now’
NEW CASTLE, Colorado – Want to meet kids that live in New Castle? Or wander up to the town’s Highland Cemetery and get acquainted with notable people from the past?Then don’t miss New Castle’s 39th annual Burning Mountain Festival. It starts tonight and is being held for the first time in September, instead of its traditional date in mid-July. “We moved it from July because it was just way too hot and this way there is no other competition with other events,” said Krista DeHerrera, event coordinator through Valley Events Inc. in New Castle. “And the response to the new date has been really positive.”There are also new events in this year’s festival, including The Kids of New Castle, which takes place tonight, replacing the traditional Miss Burning Mountain Pageant competition. The Kids of New Castle is open to boys and girls of all ages.The kids will present themselves on stage at Burning Mountain Park at 5:30 p.m. tonight and introduce themselves to the community, having spent time on Wednesday evening visiting the New Castle Museum, where they learned more about the town and its history.”This will be their 10 seconds of fame,” DeHerrera said. “It’s a great way to get the kids to dress up, get on stage, twirl around and present themselves based on their personality. They will tell people who they are, what school they attend and what their hobbies are. There is no performance, and it’s not a competition. There are no winners or losers.”The food courts and beer garden will also be open and entertainment will begin in the park with Sondra & Fire Dancers, followed by the James & the Devil band.
Another new event is the Spirits of New Castle Ghostwalk, at 9 p.m. Friday at the Highland Cemetery, the final resting place for New Castle residents since 1888. The guided tour will start with a patriotic song at the flagpole by Mayor Frank Breslin.Along the tour, the ghosts include William “Billy” Griffith, who shot Marshal John M. Rennix in a famous shootout in downtown New Castle in 1910, Doc Marshall, a Civil War veteran and the first pharmacist in New Castle, Matt Mattivi, a former Texaco gas station owner and bus driver in New Castle, and Mary Ritter, the town’s first female mayor. One woman will represent the many women widowed in the town’s tragic mine explosions.”She’s going to represent the Vulcan Mine and explain the history of the Burning Mountain and the mines,” said Patti Reich, coordinator of the Ghostwalk and owner of Patti’s Main Street Cafe downtown. “They’re all going to explain their history. It’s not a scary event. It’s historical and educational and will tie in to the Burning Mountain theme.”Visitors will be greeted at the entrance to the cemetery and luminarias will light the way, Reich said.Money from the ghostwalk will be used to help fund a veteran’s memorial in Highland Cemetery.As a veteran and member of the American Legion, cemetery caretaker Mike Miller wants to see the five-pointed star at the flagpole in the cemetery adorned with plaques from each of the five military services, the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Air Force.”We put the star in last summer, and we wanted to get placards on last year in time for Memorial Day,” Miller said. “But now we’re shooting for next Memorial Day.”Parking will be available at the Lakota Canyon Clubhouse across the street from the entrance to the cemetery. Ticket donations for the Ghostwalk are $5 and available in advance at Patti’s Main Street Coffee House, Spirits of New Castle, Sassy Cutz, Making New Waves and Alpine Bank-New Castle.
As usual, Saturday’s events will start with the annual Lion’s Club pancake breakfast, followed by the parade down Main Street. This year’s theme is “That was then, this is now.””It’s going to lead off with the Cub Scouts Troop 221 carrying the colors and include things like the New Castle Library’s reading program, the Jim Lord Farmer’s Insurance Agency with a wrecked car from somebody texting, the Sol de Mexico dancers and the Western Slope Stompers clogging group,” DeHerrera said.Other parade participants will include Alpine Bank, Riverside Middle School and the Coal Ridge High School Booster Club.Crafts and food vendors will be open in the park selling everything from jewelry and purses to handmade memorabilia and massage. Food will include Mexican, gyros, burgers, hot dogs, smoothies and snowcones. The beer tent from Rifle Brewing Co. will also be open.Back again, the Classic Car Show will begin mid-morning with the vehicles lined up along Main Street.Throughout the day, there will be kids’ games, live music and wood chopping and coal shoveling contests, all taking place in the park.For more information about Burning Mountain Festival, call Valley Events Inc. at 309-6214 or visit http://www.burningmountainfestival.org or http://www.valleyevents@ comcast.net.
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