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Breckenridge parties all weekend

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

Despite some tough budget cuts, the Town of Breckenridge is committed to showing how much it values residents, and what better way to do that, than with a party?

Since 1994, the town has organized, and funded, a celebration geared specifically toward locals.

“It’s phenomenal that the Town of Breckenridge has been throwing this free event for locals for 16 years, despite the economic woes,” said Tim Gagen, Breckenridge town manager.

The town spends $10,000 on the event, in order to attract high-quality, national bands, run ads and take care of the not-so-sexy stuff, like trash removal, security and rest room necessities.

“We could put a guy with a tambourine and a keg out there, but we want to make an effort to show the locals we appreciate everything that goes into living and working in a resort community,” said Vanessa Agee, events manager.

She specifically avoids advertising beyond Summit County – going so far as to forbid hired bands to post their show on their websites, or anywhere else on the internet – so tourists don’t come up. Though it’s termed “Breckenridge Town Party,” Agee said it’s meant for all Summit County residents, both permanent and second-homeowners.

“I really want locals to join with other locals,” Agee said. “What we really want to have happen is for locals to get together on a nice lawn with their friends, listening to great music. We want them to look around and see faces they recognize.”

This year, Hot Buttered Rum, a jamming bluegrass band from California, headlines the event.

“The quality is extreme,” Agee said. “They’re really a very, very good band. It’s the kind of band that your 8-year-old can hula hoop to and a 22-year-old will (enjoy).”

The party includes a petting zoo with furry and feathered creatures, from ponies to chickens, as well as a town photo of about 3,600 people -some paying attention, some not – taken from high on a fireman’s ladder truck. And, KSMT radio station returns with its wacky games, from cake walks to improv spoon-and-jug bands to lip synching.

“It always goes over incredibly well,” Agee said.

Gun fights. Historical mine tours. Live bluegrass music. Blacksmithing demonstrations. Storytelling. And Outhouse Races.

How can you resist?

The Breckenridge Resort Chamber and the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, in conjunction with other Breckenridge nonprofits and businesses, present Kingdom Days Saturday and Sunday. The weekend starts at 11 a.m. Saturday with the Welcome Proclamation, in memory of the day Gov. Big Ed Johnson came to the Summit County Courthouse in 1936 to raise the flag and officially welcome the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County into the nation.

Throughout the weekend, all museums – including the newest Ski Museum – will be free to provide a glimpse of the past. Mining tours, gun fights (at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Sunday) and hikes allow people to experience a slice of history. Red Tail, the Colorado Mountain Man, delivers an accurate depiction of the early mountain settlers throughout the day. Old time photos allow people to capture themselves in 1800’s costumes, and a petting zoo offers free burro rides.

If you’re looking for riches, try your luck at gold panning, with expert instruction on the Blue River Plaza. Or check out the blacksmithing demonstrations from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

And, perhaps one of the zaniest events takes place form 1-3 p.m. at the corner of Ridge Street and Lincoln Avenue. The debut took place four years ago, when town staff started brainstorming, looking for a way to celebrate the town’s historical assets. Take the “ets” away from that last word in the last sentence, add a toilet seat and some plywood, and you’ve got yourself an outhouse race.

“We thought, we’re a wacky, adventuresome town – shouldn’t we do something wacky and adventuresome,” said Heidi Dewitt, event coordinator.

Now, for the first year, the event has drawn people from outside Colorado. Chris Cybell planned on coming to a family reunion in Breckenridge with 18 people, from West Bend, Wis. (north of Milwaukee). When he saw the outhouse races on youtube, he was in. It took him about six hours to design and assemble an outhouse, and now the structure, disassembled into three pieces, is riding out in three separate cars. He’ll race with his two brother-in-laws and two nephews.

“It’s just something different,” Cybell said. “We’re from Wisconsin, and we’re somewhat outgoing – we like to tailgate, we like a good party. And, if we do something stupid, we don’t know anyone out there.”

And what will they do with their outhouse once they race it?

“I guess when we’re done, we’ll try to trade it for beer so we don’t have to haul it back,” he said.

The fun winds down with a community barbecue – for $5, you get a meal ticket and two beverage tickets, plus live bluegrass music with the Luv Brothers.

For a detailed schedule, look for the program booklet in today’s paper.


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