Celebrating 60 years, Aspen Historical Society’s hoedown signals true start to summer

Sarah Girgis
The Aspen Times
The annual Holden/Marolt Hoedown will celebrate Aspen Historical Society's sixtieth anniversary.
Aspen Historical Society/Courtesy photo

It’s time again to kick off summer with the Aspen Historical Society on its 60th anniversary at the annual hoedown on Friday from 4-7 p.m.  

“The Holden/Marolt Hoedown is a beloved event year after year,” said Kelly Murphy, president of the Historical Society. “It’s always rewarding to see the community gather at their museum to enjoy a meal together on the historic property before summer really takes over.”

This event offers the first look at the new ranching and immigration exhibition in the McMurchy/Zupancis buildings, she said.

The steam engine is a feature at the Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum.
Aspen Historical Society/Courtesy photo

“We hope locals and visitors alike will join us for a giddy up good time in celebration of summer and six decades of preserving and sharing the area’s stories,” she said.

According to Lisa Hancock, vice president and curator of the Aspen Historical Society, the city of Aspen moved the McMurchy/Zupancis buildings from Main Street to their current location in 2016.

The Historical Society has been working on the restoration since.

The original part of the house, the one-room log cabin, was built between 1881 and 1884 by William McMurchy. When he married his wife, Virginia, in 1886 and began having children, he expanded the home by rolling in a miner’s cottage next to the original cabin. The house was inhabited until 1946 despite there being no plumbing or heat.

Interactive features like a mechanical bull are part of the annual Holden/Marolt Hoedown.
Aspen Historical Society/Courtesy photo

The house was eventually acquired by the city and sat behind the Aspen Police Department until the Aspen Historical Society lobbied for it, a barn, and a small shed and put together a plan to bring the buildings back to life.

“We had an interpretive plan that we worked out through a planning process,” said Hancock. “And we looked at things we weren’t addressing and said, ‘Well, we need to do a ranching exhibit. We need to do a better job with that story. Let’s put it in the barn. We need to talk about immigration; this perfect spot for it,’ and so on.”

The society has since restored three structures acquired from the city, including extensive interior work on the 1888 miner’s cabin-turned-Victorian home, which is historically valuable as one of the only intact homes from Aspen’s Victorian era. The cabin is interpreted with carefully researched finishes, including period wallpaper and décor.

Inside the cabin and accompanying barn, an exhibition explores the stories of Western European families who implemented high-elevation farming techniques from their homelands to ranch in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The exhibition will also feature interactive features for children, including life-size replicas of farm animals.

Smiling Goat Ranch will provide live farm animals at the Holden/Marolt Hoedown.
Aspen Historical Society/Courtesy photo

The annual hoedown is free to the public. A Hickory House picnic dinner and beer will be available for purchase, as well as ice cream from The Dreamery.  Guests may bring their own picnic, but the Historical Society asks that you leave personal alcohol at home.  

Live music will be provided by Buffalo Joe’s bluegrass band, and there will be activities and games for guests of all ages, including visiting farm animals and pony painting with Smiling Goat Ranch, inflatable, mechanical bull rides, face painting with Kidtoons, and chicken poop bingo with Farm Collaborative.

Organizers ask participants to bus, bike, or carpool. There is no on-site parking (ADA only) and limited parking at Bugsy Barnard Park.

If you go…

What: Holden/Marolt Hoedown
When: Friday, 4-7 p.m.
Where: Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum
Free admission

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