Heyday a community celebration in Silt
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
SILT, Colorado ” Society’s sense of community has changed a bit since 1969, to say the least. To quote Randy Gorsett, “People don’t much get together anymore like they used to.”
Silt Heyday, however, is an entirely different story.
Gorsett, 59, is one of the dozens of locals who help put on the annual, one day blow-out. Specifically, he flips the pancakes at the annual breakfast, which serves about 300 plates each year. For the last 39 summers, the event has featured food and music, entertainment and kids games, craft booths and a parade, and so on. But the heart of the matter is much simpler than all that. To the residents of Silt, it’s always just been a time to see the folks they care about.
“People just sit and visit, and visit and visit and visit,” said Mary Jane Hangs, 67.
Still an active attendee, she was there at the beginning. Back in ’69, she was one of several townies who decided what Silt needed was its own, small-scale celebration. In those first years, it had a barbecue lunch and potluck dinner. Youngsters would play games at the tennis court, while the older residents might make a trip to the bar. It was small and impromptu ” and people were into it.
“It became a real town homecoming,” she said.
To her, the scene these days isn’t much different. Every year, she sees the seniors sitting in the shade and the younger adults chatting up their neighbors. The teenagers are up and about, and the little kids are running around and playing in the grass.
As she put it, “It still stays pretty low-key, I think.”
Unless you’re 16, that is.
Teenager Katherine Fazzi of Silt Mesa talked about Heyday like she couldn’t wait to be there. After all, she’s been going “for, like, ever,” she said.
“The atmosphere is very energetic. Everybody is so excited,” she went on.
When she was little, she was one of the youngsters riding on floats in the parade and competing in those tug-a-wars and potato sack races. Now, she’s more of a spectator. Whether she’s watching little kids enjoy themselves or brave souls sweat in the jalapeno eating contest, it’s just a good time. It also doesn’t hurt that she gets to see all her friends.
“It’s kind of like a little summer reunion before school starts,” she said.
Even though John Sommers, 68, isn’t a bonafide resident of Silt, the Aspenite still feels that country togetherness. For the last decade, he and his band, Heart of the Rockies, have been converging on Heyday’s pancake breakfast, and serving up whatever people want to hear. The two most popular requests? John Denver and Johnny Cash.
“You know, it’s just more quaint,” he said, comparing the gala to other festivals around. “Silt Heyday is truly a locals event.”
And that’s just the kind of sentiment organizers love to hear. Peggy Swank, 61, who has been the financial coordinator for the last six or seven years, explained that the atmosphere here isn’t big and flashy. This is no Burning Mountain Festival or Strawberry Days or Mountain Fair.
“You almost have to be there,” she said, trying to put it into words.
Forget the music and vendors and food, what she’s really concerned with is creating a space where people can go and mingle. Though she hasn’t lived in Silt forever, Swank stills knows what this day is about.
As a true old-timer, Hangs, put it, “The reason we started it is still there.”
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Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight in Glenwood and formerly trained with the AVSC.