Memorial weekend, GOWD kicks off today

At 7 p.m. this evening, Colorado's "annual kick-off to summer," Grand Olde West Days, will officially kick-off.

"All the pieces are falling into place," GOWD organizer Kathy Shea said. "The vendors are rolling in and the carnival is set up, so it's almost all ready."

Vendors and carnival workers spell fun for most, but don't worry if that's not appealing, Grand Olde West Days has something for everyone.

At 7 p.m. tonight, the four-day festival starts with the Ranch Rodeo, sponsored by Elkhead Wrangles 4-H club. The Ranch Rodeo is a lighthearted, competition that makes competitions out of everyday ranch activities.

In one event, a contestant must get out of a sleeping bag, put on a pair of boots, ride across the arena and milk a cow.

The Ranch Rodeo costs $2 per person and $10 for a family.

For those interested in doing their best Doc Holiday impersonation, the quick draw competition begins Saturday at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. The event will continue through the weekend, with professional quick drawers skinning smoke wagons on Sunday and amateurs following on Monday.

After a long afternoon of gun-slinging, people will be prepared for a night of song and dance at the annual Grand Olde West Days concert featuring the Honky Tonk Tailgate Party.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Tickets are $22 in advance or $25 at the gate.

The Honky Tonk Tailgate Party features singers Rhett Akins, Jeff Carson and Daryle Singletary, and concert goers can expect two hours of non-stop, honky-tonk.

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, four-legged friends will be blessed, as sheep, cows, dogs and other animals attend the Interdenominational Blessing of the Animals. All creatures will be blessed by a minister, regardless of their actual faith.

After the animals have received their weekly dose of religion, their owners can attend Rockin' to the Hoofbeats, a musical horse exhibition at 10 a.m. at the fairgrounds.

Saturday evening, Grand Olde West Days' largest attraction will be taking place at the fairgrounds, as the third-annual bullriding event gets underway.

The event usually attracts such a large crowd that seats are limited, and it often turns into standing-room only for those who do not get there early.

The bullriding event starts at 6 p.m. and costs $15 at the gate.

Monday marks the festival's premier event, the 11th annual Wild Game and Road Kill Cook-off. Many kinds of wild animals have been broiled, fried or grilled in past competitions.

"We've had every kind of animal you can think of entered into the contest," Shea said. "Mountain lion, beaver and alligator are some of the stranger ones I've seen. It's really kind of neat because you can sometimes guess where someone's from by what they cook. It's pretty easy to guess that whoever cooked the alligator was from the south."

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