Event celebrates Rifle’s heritage | PostIndependent.com

Event celebrates Rifle’s heritage

Blair Bracken
Special to The Telegram

Some might not know, but there used to be two historical boards in Rifle. About two years ago, the boards of the Rifle Creek Museum and the Rifle Historical Society merged into one unified board with a unified vision for the re-named museum: Rifle Heritage Center.

“There was overlap in duties,” said Kathy Runia, a director for the Rifle Heritage Center. “A new entity had to be created to encompass both boards. The new name reflects where we are now in the community.”

The city of Rifle, upon the request of the Rifle Heritage Center board of directors, declared June 6 as Rifle Heritage Day, springing forth a new community event taking place this Saturday. Rifle Heritage Day will highlight just that, Rifle’s rich heritage. From Railroad Avenue to East Avenue, Fourth Street will be closed off to allow for all the events that will be taking place. “We wanted to make it as free and as family oriented in its approach as we could make it,” Runia said.

On one side of the event location there will be children’s events, including all those old-time favorites such as watermelon seed spitting, hula-hooping and much more. The adults get to enjoy some woodsmen’s games on the other side, including wood-stacking and other fun outdoor activities.

“It’s basically taking a normal everyday event and turning it into a contest,” said Cecil Waldron, board president.

The New Ute Events Center also will be incorporated into the event. The theatre, which was recently renovated and restored to reflect its original beauty and uniqueness, will serve as the site for a Dude and Dudette fashion contest for children ages 3-10 from 1-2 p.m. “Dress your little cowgirls and cowboys up,” says a poster advertising Rifle Heritage Day. The Ute also will host a vintage fashion show from 2-3 p.m., “showcasing nearly 50 pieces of authentic clothes,” which will be preserved in the museum after the event, Runia said.

A contra dance also will take place at the New Ute Events Center from 7-9 p.m.

Of course, the event wouldn’t be complete without exploring the new Rifle Heritage Center building. From 3-5 p.m., families can take part in a museum scavenger hunt and free tours. Special icons will be hidden in exhibits, encouraging participants to really investigate and view each exhibit, as many are new. “We want to engage with the community and make them proud, and want to be part of Rifle’s history,” Runia said, adding there will be more changes to come at the Rifle Heritage Center. “Exhibits need to change to keep our community and tourists interested.”

The Rifle Heritage Center has already made simple yet significant improvements, including repainting and cleaning carpets, Runia said. The board has an ambitious vision for the future, which it hopes to achieve during its current members’ lifetimes. Currently, Johnson-Carter Architects, P.C., is drafting a version for a new Rifle Heritage Center facility to encompass the current volume of exhibits. “Historic heritage tourism is one of the largest factors in the state,” Runia said.

The board also envisions creating one of the largest — if not the largest — gun exhibit in North America, including the history and owner information of each piece, potentially making the exhibit not only the largest of its kind but perhaps the most historically rich and detailed.

“It’s a shift from a regular museum to a center to bring tourism and economic stimulus to the Rifle community.” Runia stated. “It’s not going to be done without a lot of philanthropic buy-in, and those who want to bring it to the next level.”

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