Margaret Melloy Guziak
Grand Junction, Colo.

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April 4, 2011
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Fruita's Fourth Annual Farm and Ranch Days

After raining during the night, Saturday morning's sunshine was welcomed by the cheery crowd who exited their cars and trucks onto the Fruita's CO-OP's expansive parking lot for the Fourth Annual Farm and Ranch Days. Moms and Dads extracted their anxious kids from their rear car seats. Teens, cell phones in hand, rushed over to join with friends they recognized, while a FFA group practiced their roping skills on the dummy cow they'd set up. CO-OP employees were starting to set up the barbeque grills to grill later in the day. Even the cool morning air didn't dampen anyone's spirits as they all headed over to the booths and corrals lining the area next to the blacktop.

Bill Somerville at the end corral stood proudly beside his two Belgian draft horses. "They're brothers," he said, grinning. "My wife, Julie, and I decided we wanted to raise our kids in the country, working with horses and the land so they could understand and respect their family heritage. We have a place north of here. I'm the son of Will S. and the nephew of Richard. They sold the Somerville ranch, which ran from Whitewater to Palisade up the side of the Grand Mesa, to the city of Grand Junction for their drinking water. Best water around. In the 1880s, my grandfather Will G. Somerville, did a nine-day cattle drive on our ranch, rounding up 13,000 head from ranches, then loaded them onto five trains and shipped them out to Thompson, Utah."

Pretty, blonde, confident Larissa Gilbert Rignall tied up her mini-Apaloosa to talk to the crowd admiring her two horses. "They're father and daughter," she stated. When asked why the little Appaloosa didn't have spots, she explained, "Appaloosas are shedders. They have spots under there. I could have shaved a section to see, but it was too cool." Her banner, "Leave It to Larissa and Associates" flapped behind her. Her brochure says they provide large animal/livestock/pet care, giving them personal attention, in addition to home and property care." (www.3Rhorseranch.com)

Young Megan Moloney is the volunteer State Director for Personal Ponies. She stood beside the corral holding the little ponies while she sweetly explained their purpose. "It's an international, non-profit organization. We provide ponies at no charge to children with special problems who need them to help heal." Their brochure says, "There is a special MAGIC between the Shetland pony and children." (www.PersonalPonies.org)

Mary George and her husband, Leroy, own Bookcliff Alpacas at 2054 J Road, in Fruita, Colo. Mary said they really love it but did lots of research and had many discussions before they made a decision. Her husband worked with Dan Reynolds, and since Dan and Leah owned an alpaca farm themselves, (and had their own booth today), they were able to have many of their questions answered.

Grand Mesa Back Country Horsemen had a brochure-filled booth about their service organization. They offer their time and equipment to government agencies by helping build trails and trailhead facilities, assisting in planning, teaching packing skills, and safety. One of their last projects was in the Rabbit Valley area. Penny Ackerman is President of the local chapter. (www.GMBCH.com)

Amy and A.J. Valdez stood lovingly in front of their corral housing horses from The Stables at Gateway Canyons Resort. "Spanning more than 500 acres with a generous network of well-marked trails that climb over 1,500 feet in elevation, the facility provides spectacular access to the area's riches," the brochure reads. They have riding lessons for all levels, 90-minute standard trail rides, "Ride & Dine" rides with unbelievable scenery to their mountainside pavilion. For reservations or information, please e-mail Concierge@GatewayCanyons.com.

There were more exhibits: The Grand Valley Drainage District, Friends of the Mustangs, Colorado National Monument with their Centennial Calendar of Events, two restored vehicles owned by ALLEN Unique Autos, and Equine Assisted Services of Loma, Colo.

There are other Fruita festivals that draw people from all directions here, such as the well-known Fat Tire Festival, a mountain biking event, April 28 through May 1, 2011; Mike the Headless Chicken Days, May 20 through 21st, 2011; and the 97th Annual Fruita Fall Festival, September 23 through 25th, 2011.

Some city folk might consider such events as farm and ranch days, bed races, spaghetti dinners, ranch rodeos, parades, or Rotary Beer Gardens, manned by many local volunteers, as "silly" or "hokey." These Coloradans don't. The people of Fruita remember, honor and celebrate their small town and cowboy past, while they firmly move forward into the future.

After raining during the night, Saturday morning's sunshine was welcomed by the cheery crowd who exited their cars and trucks onto the Fruita's CO-OP's expansive parking lot for the Fourth Annual Farm and Ranch Days. Moms and Dads extracted their anxious kids from their rear car seats. Teens, cell phones in hand, rushed over to join with friends they recognized, while a FFA group practiced their roping skills on the dummy cow they'd set up. CO-OP employees were starting to set up the barbeque grills to grill later in the day. Even the cool morning air didn't dampen anyone's spirits as they all headed over to the booths and corrals lining the area next to the blacktop.

Bill Somerville at the end corral stood proudly beside his two Belgian draft horses. "They're brothers," he said, grinning. "My wife, Julie, and I decided we wanted to raise our kids in the country, working with horses and the land so they could understand and respect their family heritage. We have a place north of here. I'm the son of Will S. and the nephew of Richard. They sold the Somerville ranch, which ran from Whitewater to Palisade up the side of the Grand Mesa, to the city of Grand Junction for their drinking water. Best water around. In the 1880s, my grandfather Will G. Somerville, did a nine-day cattle drive on our ranch, rounding up 13,000 head from ranches, then loaded them onto five trains and shipped them out to Thompson, Utah."

Pretty, blonde, confident Larissa Gilbert Rignall tied up her mini-Apaloosa to talk to the crowd admiring her two horses. "They're father and daughter," she stated. When asked why the little Appaloosa didn't have spots, she explained, "Appaloosas are shedders. They have spots under there. I could have shaved a section to see, but it was too cool." Her banner, "Leave It to Larissa and Associates" flapped behind her. Her brochure says they provide large animal/livestock/pet care, giving them personal attention, in addition to home and property care." (www.3Rhorseranch.com)

Young Megan Moloney is the volunteer State Director for Personal Ponies. She stood beside the corral holding the little ponies while she sweetly explained their purpose. "It's an international, non-profit organization. We provide ponies at no charge to children with special problems who need them to help heal." Their brochure says, "There is a special MAGIC between the Shetland pony and children." (www.PersonalPonies.org)

Mary George and her husband, Leroy, own Bookcliff Alpacas at 2054 J Road, in Fruita, Colo. Mary said they really love it but did lots of research and had many discussions before they made a decision. Her husband worked with Dan Reynolds, and since Dan and Leah owned an alpaca farm themselves, (and had their own booth today), they were able to have many of their questions answered.

Grand Mesa Back Country Horsemen had a brochure-filled booth about their service organization. They offer their time and equipment to government agencies by helping build trails and trailhead facilities, assisting in planning, teaching packing skills, and safety. One of their last projects was in the Rabbit Valley area. Penny Ackerman is President of the local chapter. (www.GMBCH.com)

Amy and A.J. Valdez stood lovingly in front of their corral housing horses from The Stables at Gateway Canyons Resort. "Spanning more than 500 acres with a generous network of well-marked trails that climb over 1,500 feet in elevation, the facility provides spectacular access to the area's riches," the brochure reads. They have riding lessons for all levels, 90-minute standard trail rides, "Ride & Dine" rides with unbelievable scenery to their mountainside pavilion. For reservations or information, please e-mail Concierge@GatewayCanyons.com.

There were more exhibits: The Grand Valley Drainage District, Friends of the Mustangs, Colorado National Monument with their Centennial Calendar of Events, two restored vehicles owned by ALLEN Unique Autos, and Equine Assisted Services of Loma, Colo.

There are other Fruita festivals that draw people from all directions here, such as the well-known Fat Tire Festival, a mountain biking event, April 28 through May 1, 2011; Mike the Headless Chicken Days, May 20 through 21st, 2011; and the 97th Annual Fruita Fall Festival, September 23 through 25th, 2011.

Some city folk might consider such events as farm and ranch days, bed races, spaghetti dinners, ranch rodeos, parades, or Rotary Beer Gardens, manned by many local volunteers, as "silly" or "hokey." These Coloradans don't. The people of Fruita remember, honor and celebrate their small town and cowboy past, while they firmly move forward into the future.


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The Fence Post Updated Aug 14, 2012 05:00PM Published Apr 4, 2011 02:53PM Copyright 2011 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.