GOWD committee pieces together event schedule

With more than eight months of planning under its belt, and three more to go, the Grand Olde West Days Committee is racing against the clock to plan the four-day, Memorial Day Weekend event.

"Things are going pretty good. We're running against deadlines, but we're working real well and everyone's pumped up," committee member Kathy Shea said. "It's just getting bigger and better this year."

GOWD is scheduled for May 26-29.

One issue stumping committee members is how to handle the volunteer efforts of service clubs. In an effort to make Grand Olde West Days do more for community, non-profit organizations, the committee started paying groups to help with events.

Ticket-takers at the barn dance and the bullriding events were paid part of the proceeds and several groups now look at the event as a fund-raiser.

Estimates show more than $2,500 was paid to local non-profit groups after the 1999 Grand Olde West Days weekend.

"We've had a real good response from clubs and organizations who have helped us and in turn we have helped them financially," Shea said.

Due to an oversight by both the committee and the service organizations, two groups were not paid for their contributions last year. The reason, committee members said, is that the groups didn't approach the committee after the event and they were forgotten.

To ensure all groups be paid for their volunteer time, the Grand Olde West Days (GOWD) Committee is considering having groups sign a contract for services and then bill the committee after the event. GOWD Treasurer Cathy Gush said having contracts would help her keep track of which groups participated.

Contracting with service organizations seems to be the only glitch committee members are facing. Their main task is organizing and publicizing the weekend.

Several arts crafts and food vendors have been booked and will be open at the Moffat County Fairgrounds over the memorial weekend.

For the second year, a ranch rodeo will open the weekend of May 26. It will be followed by the first-ever cowboy campfire. The campfire is a free event featuring live music and local storytellers.

"It will be an old-fashioned, real cowboy get-together," Shea said.

Committee members are considering setting up a booth to sell coffee, hot chocolate and smores.

Wright's Amusement Company will again set up a carnival featuring a 50-foot ferris wheel, rides, contests and food. The carnival will be open through the entire Grand Olde West Days weekend.

A weekend with days full of activities begins May 27. Residents and visitors will be able to visit an outfitters camp, learn how to pan for gold, see the fastest guns in the West during the World Fast Draw Association sanctioned shootout, and dance to the music of fiddles as players compete to see who's the best. May 27 also brings performer Sherriustin to the stage in the annual Grand Olde West Days concert. Committee members expect the concert to be sold out and urge people to buy tickets in advance. A complete list of ticket vendors will be available at a later date, but tickets are available at the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

Before the concert, people are invited to watch the Grand Olde West Days parade.

Events will continue May 28 with a reining show, a performance of the side saddle club and chariot races. For the second year, GOWD will feature a bullriding event at 6 p.m.

The day will begin with a church service, possibly including a blessing of animals, followed by a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Lutheran Church.

The evening will end with a family barn dance and fireworks.

May 29, crowds will gather at the fairgrounds for the final day of Grand Olde West days. Featured will be the annual Wildgame and Roadkill Cookoff, a bicycle rodeo, car bash, law enforcement dunk tank and the country music competition.

The cookoff will be organized by Big Ds BBQ. Owner Dave Beasley has organized and participated in similar cookoffs throughout the South.

Because the GOWD committee made the decision to hold all events at the fairgrounds instead of having May 29 events downtown, it will provide horse-drawn wagon rides to take people from the fairgrounds to any activities downtown businesses organize.

Downtown businesses have not made any plans public, but the Museum of Northwest Colorado plans a day full of activities either May 28 or May 29. The museum is still working on plans for the weekend.

A solid schedule of events both for GOWD and museum-sponsored activities will be available as Memorial Day Weekend draws closer.

"It's just so exciting when everything finally falls into place," Shea said.

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