The official season opening of the valley's community gathering place, events center, and tourism and economic development showcase -- Pioneer Town -- is coming this Saturday with main events taking place throughout the 25-building complex from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The day's activities will get off right with a VFW pancake breakfast in the Stolte Shed beginning at 7 a.m. Later on, there will be the traditional Rotary Club cookout starting at 11 a.m.
The all-volunteer Surface Creek Valley Historical Society will be hosting events, providing guided tours, and keeping the pace light and lively for guests who will get a half-price entry for the day to experience the fascination provided by one of the valley's most unique enterprises.
The focus on Pioneer Town displays is local history and heritage. But visitors will get an additional bonus when they enter and experience an example of the true enterprising spirit that settled the West and built the American nation. Pioneer Town is a wholly private enterprise managed, staffed, and operated by the volunteer Surface Creek Valley Historical Society. Pioneer Town does not rely on government funding to provide its programs and activities.
The Grand Mesa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and Auxiliary #9221 is hosting their Memorial Day pancake breakfast at the Stolte Shed beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday. Their event also commemorates Armed Forces Day, which is observed on May 21. Another important observance this month is the 71st anniversary of the World Ware II V-E Day on May 8, 1945.
The SCVHS volunteers have planned a great lineup of activities for their guests on Saturday, welcoming them to tour and browse historic displays of the valley's pioneer past.
Admission price to the museum is halved for the day: adults $2.50, seniors $2, youth (aged 6-17) $1.50, and children under 6 years old enter free. Little Britches rodeo contestants will receive free admission for the day.
This year's Heritage Day features some classic favorites and some new attractions. Docents will be on hand to enlighten visitors in several of the museum's collections: Phil Ellsworth will be in the Welcome Center to cover an interesting Civil War diary of soldier Henry Hayden. Betty Kendrick will be at the Peterson Cabin ready to retell her family's history there. Naomi Stewart (daughter of Doris) will be at Doris' Doll and Toy House and able to address the conception and establishment of the Doll and Toy House and its exhibits.
A perennial favorite is the blacksmith shop. Blacksmiths Paul Michaels and Ella Kelly will be there to tell about the historic equipment, demonstrate smithy processes, and to give away trinkets.
Another staple of Heritage Day is western re-enactment. This year will again feature Richard Brubaker (Cap'n Billy) and wife Terri (Rocky Mountain Rose). Billy and Rose will relate stories and tall tales outside the Lizard Head Saloon. Rose is also a card shark and will likely be dealing some hands of Faro in the saloon. Faro is a casino gambling game that was popular in western mining towns during the gold rush. Re-enactors Lee Myers and family will be returning, and new this year is Charley Shaw (Charley Twodogs) with trick roping, a git-fiddle, and perhaps some western skits.
Oral histories will be introduced this year. The museum is establishing a military history display in the Austin Depot, and the historical society has oral recordings from many Surface Creek Valley veterans and civilians. Those recordings will be played for visitors to hear, and efforts will be made to enlist other area residents in the recording project.
The Cedaredge Rotary barbecue will take place near the Sutherland Indian Museum. Lunch runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with grilled selections available for purchase.
Music is also important. From 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Chirp Roderick will be in the Lizard Head Saloon playing old-time tunes. Chapel of the Cross will have organ and piano music throughout the day.
The Welcome Center and Gift Shop will be open during the event. There, visitors can find items reflecting pioneer crafts and lifestyles including handmade arts and gifts from local artisans as well as books by local authors. A diorama overview of the museum grounds and a few museum displays are also located there.
Other local craftsmen and craftswomen will be present, as will local historical artifact collectors. Black Canyon Wood Carvers will be on the Welcome Center front porch displaying their carvings and demonstrating wood carving techniques. S&B Quilters will be stationed near the Bar-I Silos. Near the blacksmith's shop Lorance Raim will once again display some of his vintage carriages. Visitors and volunteers are encouraged to dress in vintage or western clothing. Bring your camera. The surroundings provide a great backdrop for memorable photos.