Getting into the swing of summer in Rifle
RIFLE, Colorado Though you may not be able to describe it, there is no denying it. Something about the Wild West still speaks to us so many years after its heyday.Whatever it may be, its been drawing folks to the Rifle Rendezvous Festival for more than a decade.Tonight, this small town shindig enters its 12th year at the Garfield County Fairgrounds. Touted as Celebrating the Old West Embracing the New, it boasts three days of history and entertainment, food and carnival rides. Though you may never have been, it certainly has its fair share of believers, many eager to talk about the soul of the thing. Its a wonderful, fun family event, and people just enjoy it, said Larry Glenn. Its fun to make people happy.Glenn, 63, a local cowboy poet, has been part of the festival for eight years. He organized tonights collection of cowpoke performers, showing off at the Cowboy Music & Poetry Show. He went into detail about the really nice lineup, which includes the likes of the Yampa Valley Boys, Bob Ward and John Black. As Glenn sees it, this kicks off a few days of reveling in the past something to which hes no stranger.We all want to be able to remember our roots, said the Clifton native.For Glenn, this has meant working in the country for almost 30 years and putting the cowboy way to words for more than 15. For Rendezvous attendees, it might mean participating in Saturdays Outhouse Race, attending a show by Celtic dancers or feeling their stomachs churn at the carnival. While not all strictly traditional events, these do speak of a simpler time, when getting people together wasnt quite so difficult.It really has something for everybody, Glenn said.Though he makes his home around Tucson, Ariz., trick roper Loop Rawlins thinks of the Rendezvous as a family reunion. For the second straight year, the 22-year-old will be back, spinning his guns and throwing his lassos for the crowd. He knows that children like to laugh at him, and he thinks this whole event touches something in them.It will help kids get interested in history in a fun way, he said.He mentioned that the Rendezvous could use a few more attendees but still spoke with a cheerful enthusiasm about it. Sometimes, when hes putting on his hat and cowboy boots, he flashes back to old, black and white photos of cowboys past.I think, like man, Im continuing on this tradition from way back when, he said.How many fairs give you that?To John Bell, 67, this is all about history, too, but hes focused on the tales that were never published. He and his troupe of Buffalo Soldiers will be on-hand, giving presentations and running drills. Though many around here dont know it, the African American military branch was part of settling this area. Back in 1879, hundreds of soldiers were dispersed nearby after the Meeker Massacre (when farmer John Meeker and others were killed by Native Americans). The the soldiers history stretches into 1944, he said, but hardly anyone would know it if it werent for events such as this.We dont want to make these men heroes, explained Bell. We just want to tell their stories.Though noticeably excited, Rendezvous president Judy Hewitt, 62, wasnt one to steal anyones thunder. She simply made a few remarks, saying shes happy to be part of something thats accessible to all people and their kids. Most of the event is free, she stressed, modest about her role in Rendezvous creation.Luckily, her mom was sure to give her props.Shes really put her heart and soul into this, said June Renfro, 80. Shes the angel of the community.Like her daughter, Renfro will certainly be at the festival, she said, and shell be wearing some old-timey garb. She mentioned the importance of the different cultural events and performances at the Rendezvous. But what she really stressed, again and again, however, was how much she loved watching families have a good time.I really like the community coming together part, she said. The people turning out, people coming together.Sometimes it feels like our culture has lost its family touch, she went on, wistfully. But not in Rifle not this weekend.
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