From 1888 to 2020, New Castle celebrates Founders’ Day Saturday

New Castle Town Councilman Bruce Leland speaks at a previous Founders' Day celebration. This year's event will occur Saturday. Courtesy Photo

Over 130 years after being incorporated, the town of New Castle will celebrate its earliest settlers this Saturday at Founders’ Day.

The community tradition, which includes a potluck lunch, will occur from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the New Castle Community Center downtown.

New Castle Administrative Assistant and Special Events Coordinator Debbie Nichols said residents often bring dishes that adhere to old-time, family recipes.

“In years past, I have brought a corned beef dish from the town that we were named for,” Nichols said.

New Castle’s name derives from Newcastle upon Tyne; a city in North East England with a rich coal mining history like New Castle.

Following the potluck, the more than 100 residents expected to attend the celebration will learn about several of the town’s historical figures.

“You basically get a history lesson on New Castle,” Nichols said.

This year, residents will learn about the town’s postmasters and other notable community members.

According to the town’s website, Jasper Ward, who operated a freight business in Leadville, was New Castle’s first settler.

“[Ward’s family] had claimed the land and then coal was discovered,” said Bruce Leland, New Castle town councilor. “Ward started selling off property along what is now Main Street to the people who were coming in.”

“The Ute Indians were of course here long before,” Leland said.

New Castle was officially incorporated on Feb. 2, 1888 and around the 125 anniversary of its founding date, the first Founders’ Day celebration ensued.

The community tradition has remained intact ever since during the month of February.

In addition to family favorite dishes, residents also bring food items similar  to what many of the town’s early settlers likely survived off.

“Elk dishes…elk stew,” Leland said. “The one I usually make is Calico beans.”

At Founders’ Day, the town will also announce the winner of this year’s snowman competition.

According to Nichols the town received 26 entries in its first year of hosting the competition.

Following the Founders’ Day celebration residents can walk across Main Street to the New Castle Branch Library for a photo tour of “New Castle: Then and Now” presented by Steve Rippy with the town’s historic preservation commission.

“New Castle: Then and Now” will begin at 2 p.m. in the New Castle Library as part of Garfield County Libraries series “Keeping History Alive.”

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