For the 2017 Crawford Pioneer Days celebration, the planning committee chose to honor the homestead and heritage families that built Crawford, families that have helped shape the community and the town in the past 100 years or so. Heritage families have been invited to ride in the parade, and the theme for the weekend is "Heritage, Family and Friends!" And while there are many families in the area that fit the bill, when the committee began tossing names around for grand marshal, king and queen, it was a natural fit with the theme to honor members of one of the heritage families, said Collenette Vervloet, who serves on the Pioneer Days planning committee. "Before we knew it, the Piphers were among the nominations, and they won hands down," she said.
Siblings Pauline Pipher, Rinda Pipher and Curley Pipher have been named the grand marshal, queen and king, respectively. Their nephew Logan Pipher has been named the Fireman of the Year by the Crawford Fire Auxiliary Board.
The Pipher Family has been in the Crawford area since about 1916, when Curley Pipher -- the first Curley -- homesteaded here from Ohio. He was a rancher and raised sheep and pigs at Figure Three Ranch. He married a local schoolteacher, Claudine. Curley's and Claudine's son, Luce, (dad to Pauline, Rinda, Curley, Diann and Luther) eventually took over the Figure Three operations. He switched from hogs and sheep to cattle and added a couple of sawmills. Last year, in celebration of the centennial celebration for the Pipher Homestead, Diann wrote a story about her family's history in the Delta County Independent. The article can be found at www.DeltaCountyIndependent.com by searching for "Centennial celebration at Pipher homestead."
Pauline, Rinda and Curley give a lot of credit to their dad for really making the Pipher name mean something in the valley. "It was Dad who really made the Pipher name recognizable," Rinda said. Luce built a successful business which he passed on to his children, but he also has a generous nature, and always made sure to donate to community events. Pauline and Rinda remember how Luce was always willing to donate lumber, firewood and beef to the Pioneer Days auction and other events. He was also a big supporter of youth organizations and always bid on a student during the FFA work auctions.
"If it wasn't for this community, the sawmill wouldn't have made it," Pauline said, and added that her dad always tried to pay it back with his generous donations. "Dad was a giver," she said. "He worked hard and he gave to the community. He was a good example for us kids." Luce was also once the Pioneer Days grand marshal.
These days, Curley and his brother Luther operate Figure Three Ranch on over 5,000 acres in the Crawford area. Curley and his wife Shawna operated an excavating business for many years, first in Kansas and then in Crawford when they returned to the area. He now spends his days ranching. His wife explains that Curley, like all of Luce's kids, always had a great respect for his father and the way he built his ranching and sawmill business, and how he always gave to the community. "There are good people in this community," Curley said. "It's a good community."
Because the ranch has taken over the majority of his time, Curley hasn't been to a Pioneer Days celebration in many years. When he and his family used to attend, however, he said he enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with friends and neighbors. "Sometimes it was the only time we'd see some people in over a year," he said.
Like her brother, Rinda hasn't been to Pioneer Days in a couple of years, but said she also enjoys the parade and the chance to reconnect with friends. She lives on Clear Fork and recently retired after 18 years at Hotchkiss City Market. It was actually in her checkout line that she learned she had been named this year's queen. Collenette and her husband Tony were buying some groceries and they broke the news, Rinda said. "And I just started laughing. It tickled me for some reason," she said. After she got over her initial surprise, she said she was honored. "There are several from the Pipher family they could have chosen," she said. "It's quite an honor to be chosen."
Pauline agrees with her sister. "I am totally honored and humbled," she said. "It's very special and really neat the family could be recognized."
She lives on the original, 100+-year-old family homestead, which is about 13 miles outside of Crawford. After graduating from high school, she left the area for a bit, but wanted to come home. She settled in Crawford in 1991. She raised her daughter here, and has owned the hair salon Cuttin' Loose in Crawford since 1992.
The parade has always been one of Pauline's favorite parts of Pioneer Days. This year, she'll ride in a float alongside Rinda, Curley and Logan. Rinda added that she likes to watch the spectacular fireworks show each year - she has the pleasure of being able to see the show from her house.
Logan has been on the Crawford Fire Department for six years. He joined when he was just 16 years old. Though he was young when he first joined, he knew early on that he wanted to help out his community. "I know pretty much everyone in town, and if someone needs help, I want to be there," he explained. And also, being a teenage boy, the allure of riding on and driving a big firetruck held certain appeal too.
When he was just 17, he was called out on his first major house fire on Fruitland Mesa. By the time the department arrived on scene, the home was completely engulfed in flames and was a total loss. He and his team fought the fire for about five hours he said. "We just couldn't save it," he said. That call remains one of his most memorable, though he said he loves all aspects of serving on the fire department.
He serves as a captain on the department, and oversees safety operations for the rest of the firefighters. He helps to coordinate safety trainings, and during a fire call, he and his co-captain are responsible for ensuring the safety of the others for the duration of the call. "We keep an eye on everybody and make sure everyone is doing their job safely," he explained.
"I appreciate the nomination, and I'll keep doing what I can to help. Every chance I get," he said.
When he's not fighting fires, he works on the family ranch. His dad is Luther.
"We are really excited about being able to honor these dignitaries and all the families that have stood the test of time and made the North Fork what it is today," Vervloet said. "Without their devotion, hard work, and commitment to this area, who knows what the North Fork would look like today."
"Of all the places in the world to live, this is the place. Crawford is a great place to be," Rinda said. "I'm truly blessed to live here," she said. "I've got a great family and a good community."
Pioneer Days will run June 8-11, and kicks off on Thursday with the annual melodrama. Events wrap up Sunday with a community non-denominational cowboy church service and a picnic lunch. A full schedule can be found at CrawfordPioneerDays.Weebly.com. Those who are members of a founding family, have multiple generations who call the North Fork Valley home, or those who just love Crawford are invited to ride in the parade. A parade application is also available online.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.