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Frontier Diary

Willa SoncartyRegistrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyEmily Cardnell, as she appeared in the Official Souvenir Book of Festival Mountain and Plain, 1897. Miss Cardnell, a bookkeeper, was much admired in Glenwood Springs. It was written upon her selection as Garfield Countys representative to the Festival of Mountain and Plain that she earned the respect of the whole community by her independence in supporting herself and her election is, in a manner, an expression of the public in favor of such independence.
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The Silver Panic of 1893 created economic and spiritual devastation among Colorado residents. Two years later, the mood of the people as well as their economic status had not improved. It was then that the Denver Chamber of Commerce developed the idea to hold a celebration. That celebration was called the Festival of Mountain and Plain.Patterned after New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, the three-day festival was marked by fireworks, a parade and a masked ball. Tradesmen, as well as civic and social groups, provided displays and demonstrations. All was done with the hope that the economy of Denver and all of Colorado would be stimulated.Of course, no festival would be complete without a queen and her court. Each Colorado county selected a Maid of Honor to represent their communities at the Festival of Mountain and Plain.In September 1897, Miss Emily Cardnell and Miss Effie Baldwin competed for the honor of representing Garfield County at the festival. The popular ballot revealed that 24-year-old Emily Cardnell was chosen Garfield County’s Maid of Honor. Immediately, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and Colorado Midland Railway fought to provide her free passage to the festival. The question, “Which Way, Fair Emily?” was asked of her, and she thought it impossible she could be so popular between the lines. In the end, Fair Emily left for Denver on the Denver and Rio Grande.Undoubtedly, the third annual Festival of Mountain and Plain held Oct. 5-7,1897, stimulated all Miss Cardnell’s senses. The grand parade contained elaborate floats representing mining and commerce; fairy tales and foreign lands; and nature and the heavens. Civic leaders and their families masqueraded as royalty. An enormous Chinese Dragon made its way though Denver’s streets.Emily Cardnell married Glenwood Springs druggist Fred Ewing in 1901. In 1902, the Festival of Mountain and Plain folded for lack of profit. The Denver festival was revived in 1983, and is now known as “A Taste of Colorado.””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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