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People who love the aura and authenticity of the west will find plenty of reasons to spend time in Southwest Colorado. Visitors may step back in time and enjoy a living demonstration of the region's western way of life at one of the many heritage celebrations and events hosted throughout the year. Here is just a sample of what's in store.
Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog TrialsHotchkiss, May 8-10Ranching and agriculture has been a way of life since the earliest days of the southwest Colorado region. The Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials pay homage to that heritage. The sixth annual event features 75 canines competing to be top dog. Enjoy two days of judged trials, the USBCHA Sanctioned Handler's Dinner, the Sheep Camp Wagon and Tent Camp competition and much more.www.hotchkisschamber.com
Mesa Verde Country® Indian Arts & Culture FestivalCortez, May 23-25Held every Memorial Weekend, this week-long celebration explores the region's cultural and archaeological gems in Mesa Verde Country®. Enjoy a juried Native American art market, Native American dances, a Navajo rug auction, special archaeological tours and a Native American concert.www.mesaverdecountry.com
Pagosa Folk 'n Bluegrass Music FestivalPagosa Springs, June 5-7You'll be singing the blues in a good way at this festival that is held at Reservoir Hill Park in Pagosa Springs. This year's lineup includes The Belleville Outfit, Sweet Sunny South, The Boston Boys, Missy Raines and the New Hip, and much more! Enjoy workshops, late night shows, campfire jams and a free kids program.www.folkwest.com/folk_bluegrass_festival/index.htm
18th Annual Telluride Wild West FestTelluride, June 8-13This family oriented festival celebrates the spirit of the west and brings inner- city youth, along with artists and musicians from across the nation, to Telluride. Through a scholarship program created in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, inner- city youth come to Telluride for a week of enriching educational experiences. The events are for everyone to enjoy and include drum group performance, vintage stagecoach rides, cowboy poetry, and performances at the Sheridan Opera House. 970-728-6363
Telluride Heritage FestivalTelluride, June 12-14This festival's goal is to bring together visitors and locals in a celebration of the enduring history of the greater Telluride region. Activities include a Ute blessing on the valley floor, a reenactment of the Butch Cassidy bank robbery, and heritage-related activities such as teepee building, blacksmithing, gold panning and ranching demonstrations.970-728-6363
Little Britches RodeoCedaredge, July 10-18First organized in 1958, the Western Slope Little Britches continues to this day and features a rodeo, parade, car show and Lion's Club barbeque in the park. While in Cedaredge be sure to visit Pioneer Town, a museum and living history village. www.cedaredgecolorado.com
109th Annual Cattlemen's Days RodeoGunnison, July 11-19Dubbed the "Granddaddy of Colorado Rodeos" the Cattlemen's Days Rodeo made its debut 108 years ago when Main Street served as the arena for cowhands to show off their roping and riding skills. Scheduled between spring calving and summer haying, Cattlemen's Days continues to demonstrate the rhythm of traditional ranch lifestyles as PRCA cowboys and girls from around the U.S. and Canada compete. The event includes a county fair, parade, carnival, live music and dancing, horse shows, cow pie bingo, horse races and the PRCA rodeo events.www.cattlemensdays.com
Ouray County Railroad DaysRidgway and Ouray, Sept. 10-13All aboard for a celebration that pays tribute to Ouray County's world-famous railroad heritage. Take a guided hike, complete with historical narration along the Silverton Railroad Grade from Red Mountain Summit to the Guston town site. Visit the Ridgway Railroad Museum and see Motor #1 demonstrations and enjoy a railroad symposium.www.ridgwayrailroadmuseum.org/2009RRDays.html
Ute Council Tree Pow WowDelta, Sept. 18-20"Experiencing Cultural Traditions" is what this festival is all about. Designed to celebrate the Ute culture and the present-day multi-culture of Delta, County this event is a collaborative effort of the three Ute tribes – Northern, Southern and Ute Mountain Ute – who inhabited the Delta area more than 100 years ago. Festivities include the participatory Ute Bear Dance, dancing and singing competitions, a parade, artisan and food booths, Tipi Village tours and other cultural activities for kids of all ages. www.counciltreepowwow.org
Western Colorado Railroad ExtravaganzaMontrose, October 3-4The history of the influence of the railroad system in southwest Colorado will be on full – albeit miniature! – display in October in Montrose. The model train event will consist of hundreds of train displays, vendors, artists, entertainment and how-to demonstrations. 970.323.6469
Durango Heritage CelebrationDurango, October 8-11Take a step back in time at this event that commemorates Durango's colorful and diverse history concentrating on the time period from 1881, when the town was incorporated, until 1910. Enjoy period reenactments, an 1880s heritage train ride, a Promenade on the Boulevard in period fashions, a Grand Victorian Ball and more.www.durangoheritagecelebration.org
The Southwest Colorado Travel Region boasts eight scenic byways, five national forests, five hot springs, five wilderness areas, two national parks, and two national monuments. The area stretches from Delta in the northwest to Pagosa Springs in the southeast. For more information about this unique region, visit www.swcolotravel.org for information and to request a map of the area.