Rifle Rendezvous: Making the past

Donna Daniels
Post Independent Staff

Fancy Native American dancers, wild and woolly Wild West shootists, trick riding and cowboy poets are what it’s all about at this, the seventh annual Rifle Rendezvous.

It’s Friday through Sunday, May 16-18, at the Garfield County fairgrounds.

The free festival kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday with food vendors, artisans and exhibitors. Crafters have brought hand-made knives, artwork, quilts, home-made soap, beadwork, woodcraft, silver jewelry, and other Western-flavored crafts. Food booths will feature barbecue, homemade pies, funnel cakes, pork chop on a stick (also known as Hog on a Log), Hawaiian shaved ices, fresh doughnuts and more.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will perform in concert at 7 p.m. Friday. More than 35 years old and going as strong as ever, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band can look back on a remarkable path through American popular music. From the folk music revival of the 1960s to the roots music revival of the new century, the quintet has scored commercial success on the country, pop and rock charts while playing an indispensable, award-winning role in tending to America’s roots music legacy and popularizing the artists who created it.

Opening for the band are special guests Peter Britt and Spooky and the Boogeymen. Shuttle parking will be available. Admission is $2O in advance. Tickets are available at all Alpine Banks and Wheeler Opera House; they’re $25 at the gate. The Elks Beer Garden will also be open.

On Saturday and Sunday morning, tuck into the Lions Club’s famous pancake breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Sunday’s proceeds will benefit “God’s Provision” food bank.

Native Americans will be well represented at the festival with hoop dancers, storytellers, teepees, Navajo rug weaving demonstrations, sand painting, exhibitors and Navajo fry bread from 10 am. to 4:30 p.m. Appearing this year is Dallas Chief Eagle, champion hoop dancer of the Lakota tribe.

Paul Bunyan-wannabes will get a chance to test their skills at the logging competitions, which will feature chain saws, two-person cross cut, log roll, adults and kids pulp toss and firewood stacking and splitting.

The Asociacion de Charros las Delicias will present the tradition of Mexican horsemen or “charros” and the sport that gave birth to the American rodeo. They also aim to teach the values of good sportsmanship, honor and respect.

Larry Lewis has been trick riding for more than 30 years. He stands up on galloping horses – something almost everyone has wanted to do at least once in their lives.

Draft horses, the gentle giants, will compete in obstacle races, log skidding and barrel races.

Look for the Kids Korner, featuring a magician, face painting, a story teller, and petting zoo. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Magician and puppeteer Jim Loshbaugh has performed at the Colorado State Fair, the Taste of Colorado, Buffalo Bill Days, Oktoberfest, and hundreds of schools and libraries. He will also offer caricatures, face painting and balloon animals.

Musician Michael Stanwood will perform on a variety of musical instruments, including the Australian didgeridoo, the Thai khaen, guitar and autoharp. He was a musical goodwill ambassador for the U.S. State Department and toured throughout Southeast Asia. He is a five-time winner of Westword’s Best of Denver award for his music. In 2001, he released a collection of children’s songs, “Yeahbut Shoehead.”

Students from Wamsley Elementary, Esma Lewis Elementary and Rifle High School will exhibit their artwork at the Kids Korner area.

The Baila Con Migo folkloric dancers will perform international dances from Spain, Mexico, Central and South America. The group has danced at the Colorado State Fair, the Denver Mayor’s Ball, Denver Cinco de Mayo celebrations and at public schools. Their trademark dance is called “La Bruja,” in which the dancers balance glasses of water on their heads while performing difficult footwork. They also perform flamenco, merengue and salsa.

Fuel up Saturday evening at 6 p.m. with Stewfest, served by local elected officials. The menu includes buffalo stew, cornbread and peaches, espresso and drinks and desserts, and music from the Mountain Sounds Barbershop Quartet, We Believe and cowboy poets. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for children.

Can a person who knows cows and horses, wheat and corn have a poetic turn of mind? The answer is a resounding yes. Cowboy poetry speaks from the soul of the country and of a life that is quickly vanishing.

Larry Glenn of Rifle is a third-generation western Colorado native. His stories and poems echo the history of his family and their attachment to the land. He has performed throughout western Colorado, at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Arvada, the Florissant Gathering, the Durango Cowboy Gathering and many others. His book of poetry is “It’s Been a Long Way From There to Here.”

Peggy Godfrey has ranched for 30 years at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. She tells of her own experiences from the perspective of a woman in a predominantly male line of work.

Singing cowboy music is Wyoming Red, made up of sisters with flaming red hair and unique harmony. Rusty Endicott and Susan Park have performed at western music gatherings in the United States and Canada and won the Golden Note Award from the Cowboy Poets of Idaho.

Gary Knighting of Colorado Springs has said he learned a lot of life lessons through cowboying over the years. He conveys his love of the cowboy life in his poetry and songs. He’s appeared at the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Michael Martin Murphy’s WestFest. His book of cowboy poetry is “As True As Anything I Ever Told You.” He is now at work on a new book, “My Ears Were Full of Dirt.”

Saturday night will also feature the music of the We Believe Christian Singers, a barn dance and Elks’ Beer Garden.

Also appearing on Saturday and Sunday are the Garfield County Regulators, an Old West re-enactment group that presents both historic and fictional shoot-outs from the years 1860-90.

Start Sunday off with the Lions Club pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. Sunday morning church service is at 8:30 a.m.

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