Sheep Wagon Days coming to Craig

Sheep wagons will overtake historic downtown Craig Sept. 15-17 during Sheep Wagon Days. This unique culture is a tradition in the area and it seems fitting that Craig will be able to exhibit the history.

Sheep Wagon Days is a joint project of Colorado Northwestern Community College and the Museum of Northwest Colorado and will have many activities, including a fully restored sheep wagon on display, corn husk doll making, quilting, spinning, and a class on how to make Greek foods such as baklava and peta. Sheep Wagon Days wants to show the influences of the sheep wagon culture in the community.

"This is a new collaborative venture between the college and community," said Mary Morris, coordinator of community education with Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig (CNCC-Craig) and a coordinator of Sheep Wagon Days. "It's a new chapter of tapping into resources and learning opportunities for the community."

According to Morris, area residents, local ranchers, "sheep people" and cattle ranchers have been invited to the celebration and the city has allotted three different areas in Craig to park the wagons.

Sheep wagons are homes to sheep herders. The wagons are 11 feet long by 6 feet wide, have a stove for heat and cooking, a bed and a canvas top. The wagon moves when the sheep do. In the winter, they are in the lower elevations and summer in the mountains.

Jan Gerber from the Museum of Northwest Colorado is excited about Sheep Wagon Days and said preparations are going well. The Sheep Wagon Days committee is distributing information and receiving final activity commitments from participants.

The days will feature a parade with local family wagons and an informative class session on Sept. 15 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with world champion bronze sculptor Don Beeler.

Beeler grew up in Baggs, Wyo., and has been casting sculptures in bronze for five years. Before that he was a taxidermist, having prepared more than 8,000 mounts, including five antelope shoulder mounts commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute. He has agreed to sculpt 15 world champion cowboys in addition to his wildlife sculptures.

The community has shown support for Sheep Wagon Days.

"This is a culturally rich opportunity that blossomed once the idea started to grow," Morris said. "It is wonderful to be involved in a project where people are excited."

According to Morris, the days will feature a wide range of demonstrations that will appeal to all ages and everyone will find a piece of the celebration interesting.

During Sheep Wagon Days, Alice Pleasant Park in downtown Craig will be the home of Sureva Towler's specially restored sheep wagon.

The Museum of Northwest Colorado will hold exhibits such as a sheep industry display, the 1999 Moffat County and Colorado State Fair champion lamb exhibitors, the 1980 Wool Growers quilt, sheep wagons and sheep dog paintings by Deanna Messing, Kathy Ross, Kathy Simpson, Margaret Smith and Barbara Wilaby. The displays will be held throughout Sheep Wagon Days.

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