Hot cards and smoking guns
On the streets of New Castle Saturday during the Burning Mountain Festival, the thermometer hit 106 degrees. One vendor described the day’s business as “terrible,” and blamed the heat. By mid-afternoon, the crowd at Burning Mountain Park was almost exclusively in the shade, despite a big open patch of grass in the middle of the park in front of the stage. It was just too hot to sit in the sun.But inside the Elk Creek Mining Co. restaurant, about two dozen patrons kept their cool and relaxed with a free Texas hold ’em poker tournament.Bryan Vashus, who won first place in the tournament, said he hopes the game becomes a weekly event.”I enjoy the time with the other guys,” said Vashus.”The hundred bucks helps, too,” he added with a laugh, referring to the first-place prize of a $100 gas card. The second- and third-place winners also received gas cards, for $50 and $25 respectively.
Monica Gilmore, a New Castle resident who also played in the game, said she thinks the game helped bring a number of people out that would otherwise have found something else to do, and she said she hopes Elk Creek considers hosting more games.”If they had this every Saturday, I think a lot of people would come and play,” said Gilmore.The tournament, hosted by the Denver Poker Tour, was only one of several new additions and changes made by the “significant other” team of Burning Mountain Days chairwoman Patti Reich and New Castle Chamber of Commerce President Bill Pugh.Probably the biggest change was that vendors were lined up along Main Street in New Castle instead of lumped all together at Burning Mountain Park. The switch was designed to get town visitors out into the community more and give local businesses more exposure, and also to simply give festival-goers a little more elbow room.”This is much nicer because everyone can sit and enjoy the music instead of sitting on top of each other,” said Reich.
“I think it’s better for the businesses,” said vendor Julie Samuelson. “As far as the town goes, we have more people walking around, whereas (in the past) they were all at the park.””The heat killed us, though,” Samuelson added.Reich, however, doesn’t believe very many people were deterred by the rising temperature. She guessed that upwards of 1,000 people came out for the festival.”A lot of people came out this morning, and I think some have gone home, maybe to take a shower or cool off, but we hope they’ll be back this evening for the music,” said Reich.Another change in this year’s festival that Reich was responsible for was the re-enactment of a 1910 gunfight that took place in downtown New Castle.
The gunfight was a smash, said Reich.”Everyone loved it. It was a great time,” said Reich.The gunfight is even going to get national airtime on PBS, which showed up to film the stunt. Reich said she even introduced the film crew to a woman in the crowd who had relatives who took part in the shootout. The show is slated to air Aug. 29.Another highlight of the day was the car show, which wound up with entries from as far away as Sterling. With the cars lined up along Main Street, all with their hoods open to show off everything from powerful V8s to incredible restoration jobs, the street looked like a veritable rainbow. There were vintage muscle cars, ’40s-era pickups and pristine sportsters, in every conceivable color, make and style.”We had a very good turnout,” said Chappi Cook, owner of Cook’s Auto Performance in New Castle. As the primary organizer of the show, Cook hailed it as the best show in New Castle yet.
“Three years ago we only had four cars,” said Cook. “We built it up to 41 with the help of Patti and the new Chamber.”Reich summed up the weekend with a simple phrase. “It’s been wonderful,” she said with an exhausted but happy grin.Contact John Schroyer: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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