Pam Polak knows crafts and loves history |

Pam Polak knows crafts and loves history

Pam Polak at the Christmas bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 7, which was held at the Dillon Community Church for the first time. The event helps support the Summit Historical Society.
Greg Ellison | |

Longtime Summit resident Pam Polak loves to create.

She has operated Dillon Hair Design since 1984 and this weekend held her annual Christmas Bazaar crafts fair.

“I’ve done it twenty years easy,” she said. “I’ve always liked to make things.”

The Iowa native made the trek to Colorado in 1981 fresh out of cosmetology school.

“When I came out here with no experience, I had to work for someone else,” she recalled.

After a few years in the area, as a long time hairdresser was preparing to close her business, Polak jumped at an opportunity to open her own shop in the same space. She said the timing was just about perfect, and 31 years later she is still in operation.

For more than three decades Polak has run the business solo, which she feels provides a more personal experience for her clients.

“Half the job is social really,” she said. “When they’re in my chair they can talk about anything.”

Up until 2013 Polak held an annual Christmas Bazaar at her residence, which became space restrictive as the event gained in popularity.

“I had a three bedroom condo and it would be so crowded you couldn’t move in there,” she laughed.

The densely packed events sparked an idea that led to a beneficial partnership. Christy Nelson, who runs educational programming for the Summit Historical Society, was already acquainted with Polak from their mutual participation with Dillon Community Church. The crowded conditions at the bazaar deterred her attendance.

“I wouldn’t walk in the door because it was claustrophobic,” she said.

It appeared obvious to Nelson that Polak’s event had outgrown her humble abode, so she suggested holding the bazaar at the Dillon Schoolhouse and Museum.

With a general interest in the museum and a love of history, Polak welcomed the suggestion. For two years the bazaar was held at the museum, but since the event continued to grow, this year it moved next door to the Dillon Community Church.

Another reason for the recent relocation was occasional confusion over the bizaar’s craft items being mistaken with objects that were part of the museum’s collection.

“I was a nervous wreck because of the artifacts,” Nelson said.

With the initial partnership being successful, and none of the museum’s collection being accidentally liquidated, Polak was invited to join the SHS.

“After the first year I asked her to join the board,” Nelson said.

Over the last three years, Polak said she feels fortunate to be a board member and assist with special events to raise funds for the SHS.

This summer she helped add some extra flavor to the SHS annual Ice Cream Social. In addition to nickel ice cream cones — and yes this is still 2015 — face painting was offered and folks got to check out the SHS antique fire truck.

Over her time in Summit County, Polak has witnessed an evolution in the lifestyle of the Rockies.

“The biggest thing is we didn’t have the convenience of stores,” she noted. “When Wal-Mart opened up people were ecstatic.”

During her earlier years in the area, Polak said that people regularly traveled to Denver to purchase goods.

Although the population in Summit has grown steadily since Polak first called Colorado home, from her perspective the challenge to find living quarters has remained constant.

“The housing was tight then and its tight now,” she said.

While the county has continued to build housing since Polak’s early days in the state, the growth of residents has outpaced construction. She recalled in the 1980’s when lots in the Hamilton Creek subdivision in Silverthorne were retailing for roughly $25,000.

“They were just trying to develop it then and that’s why they sold those lots cheap,” she said.

In our current era, land prices have jumped just a bit.

“One of my customers recently sold a lot in Breckenridge for over a million dollars,” she said.

As for her future, Polak says she hopes to continue her work with SHS with one primary focus.

“We’re just keeping the history alive,” she said.

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