Historic ranch hosts holiday festival

More than a century ago, Christmas at the Jarvie Ranch was a quiet time to celebrate with family and a few friends. Today, the Holiday Fest at the Jarvie Ranch draws almost 400 people from Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

The annual event boasts live entertainment, horse-drawn wagon rides and crafts for children.

But most people go for the decorations, property caretaker and Bureau of Land Management Ranger Deb Norton said.

Dressed for the holidays, the old homestead is covered in wreaths and swags and surrounded by 11 decorated Christmas trees.

Residents are invited to see it all, tour the historic buildings and eat a home-cooked meal from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

"We have a very, very special place out here and we enjoy sharing it with the public," Norton said.

Each year, people from Craig, Meeker, Hayden, Rangely, Steamboat Springs, Vernal, Utah, Roosevelt, Utah, and Rock Springs, Wyo., travel to the historic site for the annual holiday festival.

Children from Sunset Elementary School and Naples Elementary School in Vernal created ornaments that decorate the trees on the homestead. Each tree will be judged during the festival and the winning tree will be moved to the Vernal BLM office and put on display.

"I like to involve kids," Norton said. "Once we get the trees up for the kids, it's really neat. The kids like to see their work on display."

The winners also earn a party during school hours.

Children who attend the festival get to make one ornament to take home and a peanut butter and pine cone ornament that stays and feeds the many birds that migrate through Browns Park.

In addition to the decorated trees, 60 wreaths and 150 swags were made to decorate the buildings.

"Most people come up for the decorations," Norton said. "It's a bit of nostalgia."

The Vernal Junior High Escape Club made the wreaths. Norton made the swags and did the decorating.

"It's very colorful," she said.

Lunch is catered by the Browns Hole Homemaker Club and costs $4. Admission is free.

"It is a festive holiday event for the whole family and has become quite a tradition in the areas surrounding the Jarvie Ranch," said Karen Bloom, administrative secretary for the Bureau of Land Management.

Christmas tree harvesting permits will be sold during the festival. Many people traditionally attend the festival and then drive up the road to chop down a Christmas tree, Norton said.

"It's the perfect time to purchase a BLM holiday tree permit for those who have the 'cutting and bringing home the family tree' tradition," Bloom said.

Permits are $5 each.

From Craig, the Jarvie Ranch is a straight shot west on U.S. Highway 40. At the Colorado and Utah border, the road turns to a well-maintained dirt road.

The ranch is approximately 15 miles from the Colorado and Utah border. It's a 100-mile one-way trip from Craig.

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