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Crawford is the place to be this weekend

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Illustration courtesy Crawford Pioneer Days The Crawford Pioneer Days committee has again worked with the Town of Crawford to come up with a plan to avoid traffic snarls and enhance parking and crowd flow during Saturday's events for Pioneer Days.

Crawford's theme for this year's Pioneer Days, "Small Town -- Big Heart," speaks to the core of the town's values and identity. Crawford, with a population of about 431, is nestled between wide-open ranchland and the peaks of the West Elk Mountains. The residents treasure the small town atmosphere and down-home rhythm of Crawford. Despite its size, the community sure knows how to put on a party!

As they have done for the past 40 years, Crawford area folks have pulled out all the stops for a four-day extravaganza from June 6-9. The schedule is packed with activities for everyone: music lovers, food aficionados, parade fans, shoppers looking for that unique gift, drama queens and kings, and kids eager to join in on games in the park.

The weekend starts with this year's highly anticipated melodrama and dessert theater, "Literary Cents" or "Dewey Decimal Makes His Point" on Thursday night, June 6. The title suggests some literary hijinks, perhaps with a well-read librarian, a dastardly villain (who murders the English language) and a timely hero. Every year the melodrama packs the house and encourages audience hootin' and hollerin' to add to the proceedings. The doors open to the Community Room at Crawford Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.

On Friday, the action is non-stop, much of it food related. Got a sweet tooth? Or are you an accomplished baker yourself? In that case check out the goodies or contribute to the array at the baking contest. Bakers can bring their entries to the town hall Friday, June 7, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Judging takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. The First State Bank of Colorado hosts a customer appreciation lunch, open to the public, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you're feeling peckish by dinnertime, come to the fire auxiliary fundraising dinner from 4 to 6:30 p.m. A baked potato and salad bar is on the menu (adults $8, kids eight and under, $5.) The evening closes with a live auction from 6 to 8 p.m. Desserts from the baking contest and many other prizes will be up for grabs. The dinner proceeds benefit the fireworks fund. For those wishing to add to the fund, be on the lookout throughout the weekend to contribute. There will be well-placed donation stations at various sites.

Of course, Saturday is the big blowout day, starting at 6 a.m. with a pancake breakfast served by the Crawford Fire Department until 10:30. The park will be hopping with arts, crafts, and (of course) food vendors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A dramatic flyover will feature local pilots wowing the crowd with their planes and aerial skills at 9:45 a.m. The pilots who fly each year to kick off the parade include Tracy Cheatham (Piper P46T prop jet), Lynn French (Stearman N55670 bi-plane), Charlie Huff (homebuilt Kitfox KF7), Jeremy Geddes (Cessna 150/150 N714KW high wing), Jim Knapp (Flying Sportsman N87237) and Don Geddes (90 DG Smith mini bi-plane). These pilots volunteer their expertise, time, fuel and beautiful machines to add to the sheer drama of the day.

The themed parade (Small Town--Big Heart) starts at 10 a.m., with registration starting at 8. Come find a spot to cheer on the revelers. Directly afterward the ever-popular outhouse races begin, with a crew of four delivering at speed an occupied outhouse to the finish line. The morning ends with a repeat performance of the melodrama at 11:30. The drama repeats at 1:30.

What would a festival be without music? David and Tamara Hauze put together a great line-up of local talent each year, finding those who really fit in with the event. This year they have added some great youngsters to fill in between the main acts. Musicians will perform live from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The lineup includes Young at Heart, Tim Mitchell, Andie Heinritz, Bittersweet, Donna Saunders and David and Tamara Hauze.

Free kids games will be held in the park from 1 to 4 p.m., including train rides from noon to 2. Then the breathtaking finale closes out Saturday's events -- the fireworks extravaganza at the Crawford State Park Reservoir at dusk. The highway patrol asks that visitors do not park along the highway to watch the display. The patrol will be on hand to enforce this request.

The weekend closes out with the Round-up Sunday non-denominational service at 10 a.m., followed by a free lunch in the park.

The Pioneer Days committee wants to acknowledge the efforts of KSK, the contractor and crew who have been working hard to complete the work on the sidewalk and wall at town hall in time for the festival despite the weather challenges. It would also like to remind visitors that many of the streets in town are one-way streets so the town asks that visitors respect the indicated traffic routes and designated parking areas.

Tristan Pfeffer, chairperson of Pioneer Days for the past five years, treasures the enjoyment that has come from being a part of this event. She says that "it will always be a symbol of Crawford" for her and her husband, Lee. "It's a fun, family-friendly event that really shows the spirit of the people that live in this area."

In advance of the festivities, she and the committee would like to thank volunteers and attendees. "While attending, you wouldn't know, but it takes many volunteers, months of preparation, generous sponsors and a love of community to put this whole thing together every year."

As she steps down from the chairperson position this year, she wants to say a big thank you to the board members and all of the volunteers over the years, whom she deeply appreciates.

She and the board would also like to urge any interested parties to help with duties such as set-up and dismantling and clean-up afterwards. For anyone interested in the opportunity to help make this year's Pioneer Days a success, find contact information on the website www.crawfordpioneerdays.com or at Tristan.pfeffer@gmail.com.

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