Tom Reilly walks his horse during a break in Sombrero Ranch's Great American Horse Drive on Sunday in Maybell. Reilly first joined the drive in 2006 and said he hopes to participate for as long as he can.

Photo by David Pressgrove

Tom Reilly walks his horse during a break in Sombrero Ranch's Great American Horse Drive on Sunday in Maybell. Reilly first joined the drive in 2006 and said he hopes to participate for as long as he can.

Maybell Heritage Day and Great American Horse Drive bring out region's Western flavor

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If the organizers of the Sombrero Ranch Great American Horse Drive and Maybell Heritage Day need a slogan for next year's event, they could borrow from Tom Reilly's description of his experience.

"Good people, great times, great adventure," said Reilly, as he rested with his horse during Sunday's drive. "I'm going to do this as long as I can."

Reilly, from Highlands Ranch, drove Tuesday to Sombrero Ranch to help wrangle the horses. He said he spent four days "gathering horses, eating and hanging out with about 20 friends."

He said he read about the drive in Western Horseman Magazine and singed up for it in 2006.

The horse drive has been a long-standing tradition, but the activities in Maybell are starting to grow into their own tradition.

"We advertised regionally this year," Heritage Day organizer Lisa Balstad said. "I think it's safe to say there were more people here than last year."

Balstad's estimate was that more than 200 cars brought more than 800 people to the tiny town.

Nine-year-old Emily Dippel was one of those sightseers who could watch rope being made, listen to western folk music and look at Western art and jewelry booths.

"I really liked the different things in the tents," she said while snacking on donuts from the Maybell store. "My favorites were the beaded necklaces."

Dippel and her family live in Browns Park, where her father works for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I get to wear my boots a lot," she said. "But today, I feel like a cowgirl."

The horses and dozens of wranglers, some who work for Sombrero and some, like Reilly, pay to be a part of the adventure, came through Maybell about 10:45 a.m.

It took five minutes for hundreds of horses to trot through town on U.S. Highway 40.

"I think they brought more horses for us this year," Balstad said.

The horses and wranglers finished the day at Sombrero Ranch's land west of Craig.

Carrie Snowden, of Craig, has helped with the drive for 20 years. She said she noticed more people in Maybell.

"It's becoming a pretty good tradition in Maybell," she said. "The horse drive has been a long-standing tradition. We look forward to this every year because there are people from places like Canada and Wisconsin that come back every year. It's kind of like a second family."

Balstad said her committee grew this year and that there has been talk of expanding the Heritage Day to "Heritage Days."

"We've talked about doing something on Saturday night," she said. "We'll evaluate that in a couple of weeks."

Regardless of the Heritage Days part, Reilly knows where he'll be at this time next year.

"You bet I'll be back here," he said. "There's nowhere else I'd be."

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