For working class people living in the Victorian Age, the luxury of a lengthy vacation was financially out of reach. In the effort to economically recreate, the afternoon picnic became a popular pastime.Picnics were a mechanism for community connection, celebrating a number of events. Gatherings of fraternal organizations, the marking of the end of the school year, reconnection with family members, and Sunday school outings were just some of the reasons to organize picnics.Despite the frivolity and physical freedoms allowed by picnics, the Victorians established a set of picnic etiquette guidelines. Among them, gentlemen were expected to select a suitable shady spot in an area that would not alarm excitable ladies. Guests were not to be seated upon ant hills. Any unescorted woman disappearing into the woods with a man for a prolonged period of time would not be invited to future picnics. And, given the casualness of the picnic, those of the upper classes should have no more than two servants accompanying the household. Hundreds of picnics have been enjoyed by Roaring Fork Valley residents. One of the most notable was held by the Roaring Fork Pioneers Association on June 26, 1901. This third annual pioneers picnic, held at Ed Stauffacher’s Catherine Ranch between Carbondale and Basalt, drew hundreds of original Roaring Fork Valley pioneers and their families. Aspen pioneer James Downing addressed the crowd, recounting humorous events that came with valley settlement. After his remarks, a table laden with ice cream, frozen sherbets, delicate pastries, and sourdough bread augmented any box lunches brought by picnic goers. Music by the Maroon Band kept dancers moving and entertained. This event was so well attended that the Colorado Midland Railway offered special round-trip fares to picnic participants. So, whether you are seeking the nurture of friends and family, or the solitude of nature, a picnic in the Roaring Fork Valley could be a historic way to celebrate the Fourth of July.”Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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