Hard work leads to success

After four years, Grand Olde West planner says it's time to step aside

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While the majority of town was still sleeping Saturday, Craig resident Carol Wilson kicked off her whirlwind weekend by waking up at 6 a.m.

She had to.

Wilson, a primary organizer and principle architect of this year's Grand Olde West Days celebration, had things to get done. After all, juggling the responsibilities of owning a small business, Neolithics at 565 Yampa Ave., and helping coordinate festival, one of the city's biggest events of the year, is busy work.

"The week of (Grand Olde West Days) is total chaos," Wilson said. "There is just so much stuff going on."

Residents who have enjoyed everything from a street sale, carnival and sock hop to a Wild West shoot-out and bull riding competition at the 16th annual event have steadfast volunteers like Wilson to thank.

Wilson, 55, served as chairwoman of the organizing committee. She and a handful of other volunteers have worked throughout the year to bring the festival to Craig.

"It is a year-long process," said Wilson, noting that volunteers can spend upward of 300 hours a year making the various arrangements needed for the four-day event. She said planning for next year runs concurrent with this year's celebration.

"There's planning going on for what's going to happen next year," she said. "We're seeing what works and what doesn't -- what we think is good and what people enjoy. It's sort of a parallel situation."

Wilson has been helping with Grand Olde West Days for the past four years. She said the festival is a unique offering for the city, business owners and residents.

"It's just a nice something to do," Wilson said. "It's an important community event, something the community can get behind and enjoy. It's a tradition, it was started for a purpose."

One of those purposes was providing a boon to local businesses.

For the past several years, Wilson's Neolithics store hasn't been able to take advantage of the influx in shopping the festival provides. She's had to sacrifice time away from her store for helping with the celebration.

That's part of the reason why this will be Wilson's final year in a lead role for Grand Olde West Days, Wilson said. New volunteers will provide a shot in the arm for the celebration, she added.

"It's time away," Wilson said. "It costs money from a business standpoint. This will probably be my last year of being involved in a big way. It's a hard decision, but you know people will step up. When something gets taken away, something always steps in to take its place.

"I feel like I've maxed out my contribution. We need some fresh blood."

Wilson opened Neolithics -- a reference to the new stone age -- eight years ago, shortly after she moved to Craig. The business, which began by offering an assortment of rock-oriented products -- has evolved over the years to include a variety of gifts.

Growing up as an Air Force brat, Wilson and her family lived all over the country. The most she ever spent in one place was Hawaii, where she graduated from college, got married and had her children.

Though there was an adjustment period moving from the tropical climate of the 50th state to the cool, wide open spaces of Colorado, Wilson said she and her family now call the area home.

"It was a very abrupt change, but we love it here," she said. "It's a wonderful place."

Wilson is married to husband, Jack. They have two children, Letha, 30, who lives in New York City, and Dennis, 28, who is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.

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