‘Not a normal Saturday’ | CraigDailyPress.com

‘Not a normal Saturday’

Golden Leaf Festival adds color, patrons to downtown

Paul Shockley

Ten years after Christine Muzik started making various jewelry times for friends, business ambitions have grown from favors and walk-up sales at craft festivals.

“I want to get to a point that I have a shop here in town,” said Muzik, who was among the 49 vendors lining Yampa Avenue for Saturday’s second annual Golden Leaf Festival.

Muzik has branched out from shaping semi-precious stones to numerous creations of pewter and silver.

Saturday’s festival was geared largely toward word-of-mouth advertising for Muzik and other commercial and non-profit groups not limited to Moffat County.

More such downtown showcases are needed, she said.

“Part of the problem of starting a business in Craig is that once started, you don’t get that pull,” Muzik said. “That’s where we lose something to other towns.”

Several established downtown business owners, some offering storewide sales or extended hours, were all smiles with brisk business Saturday days that are otherwise slow in late summer.

“Everyone’s usually out camping, fishing or picnicking,” said Jan Stark, owner of Candlelight Floral.

While the bulk of Stark’s business is done over the telephone, her increased walk-in crowd Saturday was welcomed with special offers posted in the window.

“It’s nice to see people back downtown,” Stark said.

Stark and several business owners noted the downtown’s loss of business a number of years ago when Grand Olde West Days moved to the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

“I’d love to have that back down here,” she said. “They might have lost some people when they moved it.”

Still, organizers with this year’s Golden Leaf Festival said they were pleased with Saturday’s foot traffic, under clear sunny morning skies, which gave way at 1 p.m. to a 20-minute rain storm that thinned out crowds. Periodic rains pelted festival goers the rest of the day.

Vendors including local non-profits represented by armored-plated men, mimicking Renaissance combat, to children or groups raising money for educational trips abroad drew attention from steady early- and late-morning crowds.

“No broken bones yet,” said Cody Burch, between battles with Daniel Gardner, both of whom are members of the local branch of the Society for Creative Anachronisms.

The group reenacted tournament-style fighting in a vacant lot north of Sweetwater Trading Co. They also do period storytelling and various customs, Burch said.

South of Yampa and Victory Way, 12-year-old Stewart Muldoon raised money for a trip he hopes to make to England to visit his friend, George, who came to Craig years ago as part of the U.K.-U.S.A. Exchange Program.

At $1,500 for the trip, Saturday was just one of several fund-raising efforts he’ll undertake in the next year.

“We were doing OK until the rain hit,” said Judy Muldoon, Stewart’s mom, noting the 20 to 25 other Craig kids working toward the same goal.

Jason Walker, owner of Craig Moo Sul Kwan, punched, kicked and shouted with his young tae kwon-do students in the northeast lot of Yampa and Victory Way.

The group is raising money for select members to travel to South Korea in 2004.

“People have told me they didn’t know we had a school here in Craig,” said Cherie Walker, Jason’s wife.

The Museum of Northwest Colorado was among the hotter spots Saturday, the final day of the Norman Rockwell exhibit that opened in July.

“It has been crazy,” said Mary Pat Dunn, an employee with museum, who was preparing for the afternoon’s pie social.

“We’ve had people from the Front Range and all over the Western Slope,” Dunn said. “This is way above a normal Saturday.”

But Norman Rockwell took a back seat with Kyle Boss, 9, who was skateboarding with his friend, Kevin, up and down Yampa Avenue.

“The kettle corn and stuff were cool,” Boss said.

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