This Saturday is the biggest community event of the year for the Surface Creek Valley Historical Society as it celebrates the season opening of Pioneer Town -- Heritage Day.
This year the Byways Welcome Center will be joining Pioneer Town's two community events venues -- Chapel of the Cross and The Stolte Shed -- as a focus of community activity and events held regularly through the summer months. A series of "Parties on the Porch" are being planned at the Welcome Center to entertain visitors and local residents as well.
There is a new feeling of energy that visitors to Pioneer Town will feel this weekend, beginning when they step into the revitalized interior of the Byways Welcome Center.
There, Welcome Center coordinator Robin Rogers, museum curator Jane Everett, and many other volunteers have created interesting displays and collected an array of truly unique gift items.
Just to the left of the entry is a fascinating and professionally curated historical display built around an authentic Civil War diary. The diary was kept by a Union soldier who was related to some local area residents. The soldier died at the Battle of Cold Harbor. The display includes the diary and true artifacts from the era.
Robin Rogers has been working to create an interesting and unique gift shop and shopping experience for visitors to the town, and also for local residents to visit whenever a gifting occasion arises.
"We have just the greatest, greatest stuff," Rogers said, "It is eclectic, unique, handcrafted and desirable." Some of the items for sale at the gift shop could qualify as legitimate collectibles.
There is a lot of emphasis in the gift area on the younger set, with old-west stuff like bows and arrows, rubber band guns and cowboy attire. There are hiking staffs for kids and adults. Rogers and the other volunteers are very proud of the many, locally handcrafted items for men, women and kids. "We try and keep it local as much as possible," Rogers said.
There are quilts and knitted apparel, rag dolls, polymer clay jewelry, handmade aprons and sun bonnets, leather crafts, post cards, jams and jellies, Salamandre lotions handmade locally. And for anyone with the collector's frame of mind, there are vintage cookie jars. There is music by Chapel of the Cross artists.
There are also some real, authentic native American-crafted dream catchers. And all of that is only a partial list.
There are books of local and regional historical interest, and all of the information about the Grand Mesa any visitor would expect to find here. The remaking of the Welcome Center and gift shop enterprise has been an ongoing effort, and a new service being offered this year is that credit cards are now accepted to make purchasing easier.
Rogers notes that Pioneer Town "is not living history, but it's not exactly behind glass either. It is up close and personal.You can spend an hour or spend a day. This is just the greatest museum going!"
A series of local events called the Parties on the Porch will have a focus for the younger set and families. In the works are plans for an apron day, vintage cookie jar day, readings, and kids activities like making dream catchers. Organizers have promised regular notices of upcoming events in the DCI. The phone number at the Welcome Center is 856-7554 to check on upcoming events any time.
"It's all for fun," said Rogers.
The Hotchkiss-Crawford Historial Society will host its annual meeting on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2:00 at the Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss. There will be music, refreshments and a guest speaker, Robert Sibernagel. He is well known in the area as he writes regional history columns for The Daily Sentinel. He was formerly the editorial page editor for that paper for 19 years.