Jim Salestrom plays Father Dyer benefit in Breckenridge Saturday | SummitDaily.com

Jim Salestrom plays Father Dyer benefit in Breckenridge Saturday

Daily News staff report

Special to the Daily

On Saturday, the Emmy Award-winning songwriter and local favorite Jim Salestrom will perform a concert that recalls local history.

For history buffs, spending a day in Breck – home to more than 200 structures in the Breckenridge Historic District, which is listed on the National Registry – can be a “gold mine” of a day. Among the historic buildings is Father Dyer United Methodist Church. The church itself is named after its founder, an itinerant minister or circuit rider, named John Lewis Dyer.

Dyer came to Colorado at age 49 and served the community of miners that populated places like Buckskin Joe, Fairplay, Leadville, Alma and Breckenridge. From 1863 to 1877, Dyer made the trek between these camps on foot, regardless of the weather. In winter, he used snowshoes and an early version of cross-country skis, earning the nickname, “Snowshoe Itinerant.”

Providing mail service, friendship and support to the miners, John Dyer also came to be called “Father” by the young men with whom he worked. In 1880, Dyer started to build the church in Breckenridge that is still in use today. Dyer, his love of the mountains and his service to the early mining population have been memorialized in a stained glass window in the Colorado Capital rotunda. Dyer was one of 16 pioneers to be honored this way.

Just a few pastors have served at Father Dyer United Methodist Church, including the much-loved Mark Fiester in the 1960s. Musician Jim Salestrom, who grew up in Summit County, has many fond memories of Fiester, his wife and the church, which he now shares through music and stories.

In, “Look For Me in Heaven,” he tells about the time Father Dyer was caught in blizzard in the mountains and nearly froze to death. In “Queen Anne’s Lace,” he describes the Fiesters’ lifelong love of nature, flowers and each other. “Grateful” speaks to the beauty of the area, as does “Blue River Dreaming.”

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Salestrom brings these songs and his stories to Breckenridge at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in a special concert at Father Dyer United Methodist Church, 310 Wellington. Tickets are available at the door for a suggested donation of $20. Proceeds support the community dinner and food pantry at the church.

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