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Fruita Fall Festival – Legends of the West

Margaret Melloy Guziak"Legends of the West" wagon float following all the horses heading down Aspen Street to join up with the parade.

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Fruita’s Fall Festival is not simply an annual gala celebration of the harvest and the beginning of fall. It is actually a celebration of the people themselves and the city in which they live. Jubilant parades and fun celebrations like this one happen in small towns all around this great country of ours. Like a Norman Rockwell painting, Fruita’s event is a picture-perfect example of any small town congratulating itself by publicly reveling with friends as they share delicious food, entertaining music and good times outdoors on a warm September weekend.

The Saturday morning bed race had the crowd lining the curbs cheering the contestants on. The judges picked the Fruita Police Department as the first-place winner. Their officers, who had donned pig snouts and pink sweat pants, pushed and ran beside a bed on which another costumed pig officer lay with a doughnut dangling overhead. The police also had a booth set up for people to pick up local information or talk to the officers. I saw a pre-teen boy walk over and shake hands with a policeman after the parade was over. Their “all-in-fun” run produced some good spirit between the officers and the community.

The 2009 annual Fall Festival had a theme of “Legends of the West” so there were some dressed in costume portraying famous legends, like Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Frank and Jesse James, Baby Doe Tabor and other Colorado notables. Under a beautiful cloudless sky, the Fruita Monument High School and their cheer group proudly marched along in the flag-waving parade heading down Aspen Avenue. Other marchers and horses followed with their saddled riders grinning and giving the “Queen’s wave” to the crowd. The Chamber of Commerce ladies rode on a bannered “Legends of the West” float.

Kids with painted faces headed over to Maggie’s camels for a ride. Other hand-holding toddlers ran across the street to climb aboard the merry-go-round. Older teens slumped along slowly, chewing on cones filled with pink cotton candy while trying to spot their other friends. The wondrous smells of freshly popped popcorn, spicy, cheesy, nachos, hot dogs and fries, Indian fry bread cooking in the booths and food trailers pleasantly filled your nostrils as you walked down the blocked-off street to inspect all the merchandise displayed for sale. Smiling dads pushed strollers, while their wives perused the purses, paintings and jewelry offered in decorated booths manned by willing artists. There were 170 food and craft vendors to satisfy every appetite.

We talked to one of the artists, Gary Russell, of Rifle, Colo., about his art. Gary’s booth was set up near the corner of Aspen and Mulberry. He is a talented iron artist who uses western and wildlife themes for his artworks. You may meet him at other fairs or go to http://www.ArtofIron.com to see his work.

We drank a cup of steamy, hot coffee from a round iron table outside Camilla’s Kaffe on Aspen where local musician, Ernie McHugh, entertained customers and passersby with his guitar. It was the place to stop, watch and listen to Ernie and the comments of passing sidewalk people. Ernie, a teacher at the Fruita 8/9 School, spotted and acknowledged some of his students when they walked by. His music, some Merle Haggard, some western classics or ’70s sounds, even Hoyt Axton’s “Bony Fingers” was fun

to hear.

Events like this don’t just happen. There is a LOT of planning, coordination and hard work involved. Mary Lou Wilson, director of the Chamber of Commerce, and the others who were part of this deserve a lot of credit for producing such a successful party. This three day event included the Lady Lioness hosting their spaghetti dinner, a Friday night street dance at Circle Park with a magic show on the Pavilion stage. Saturday vendor booths opened and the parade began. The Rotary Club hosted the Beer Garden while later, the Rimrock Rodeo Finals were held at the nearby rodeo grounds. Sunday was Cowboy Church and Youth Pet and Talent Show, ending the three-day party.

They estimated the crowd at 50,000 – the largest ever since the first Fall Festival Parade began 96 years ago.

Fruita’s Fall Festival is not simply an annual gala celebration of the harvest and the beginning of fall. It is actually a celebration of the people themselves and the city in which they live. Jubilant parades and fun celebrations like this one happen in small towns all around this great country of ours. Like a Norman Rockwell painting, Fruita’s event is a picture-perfect example of any small town congratulating itself by publicly reveling with friends as they share delicious food, entertaining music and good times outdoors on a warm September weekend.

The Saturday morning bed race had the crowd lining the curbs cheering the contestants on. The judges picked the Fruita Police Department as the first-place winner. Their officers, who had donned pig snouts and pink sweat pants, pushed and ran beside a bed on which another costumed pig officer lay with a doughnut dangling overhead. The police also had a booth set up for people to pick up local information or talk to the officers. I saw a pre-teen boy walk over and shake hands with a policeman after the parade was over. Their “all-in-fun” run produced some good spirit between the officers and the community.

The 2009 annual Fall Festival had a theme of “Legends of the West” so there were some dressed in costume portraying famous legends, like Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Frank and Jesse James, Baby Doe Tabor and other Colorado notables. Under a beautiful cloudless sky, the Fruita Monument High School and their cheer group proudly marched along in the flag-waving parade heading down Aspen Avenue. Other marchers and horses followed with their saddled riders grinning and giving the “Queen’s wave” to the crowd. The Chamber of Commerce ladies rode on a bannered “Legends of the West” float.

Kids with painted faces headed over to Maggie’s camels for a ride. Other hand-holding toddlers ran across the street to climb aboard the merry-go-round. Older teens slumped along slowly, chewing on cones filled with pink cotton candy while trying to spot their other friends. The wondrous smells of freshly popped popcorn, spicy, cheesy, nachos, hot dogs and fries, Indian fry bread cooking in the booths and food trailers pleasantly filled your nostrils as you walked down the blocked-off street to inspect all the merchandise displayed for sale. Smiling dads pushed strollers, while their wives perused the purses, paintings and jewelry offered in decorated booths manned by willing artists. There were 170 food and craft vendors to satisfy every appetite.

We talked to one of the artists, Gary Russell, of Rifle, Colo., about his art. Gary’s booth was set up near the corner of Aspen and Mulberry. He is a talented iron artist who uses western and wildlife themes for his artworks. You may meet him at other fairs or go to http://www.ArtofIron.com to see his work.

We drank a cup of steamy, hot coffee from a round iron table outside Camilla’s Kaffe on Aspen where local musician, Ernie McHugh, entertained customers and passersby with his guitar. It was the place to stop, watch and listen to Ernie and the comments of passing sidewalk people. Ernie, a teacher at the Fruita 8/9 School, spotted and acknowledged some of his students when they walked by. His music, some Merle Haggard, some western classics or ’70s sounds, even Hoyt Axton’s “Bony Fingers” was fun

to hear.

Events like this don’t just happen. There is a LOT of planning, coordination and hard work involved. Mary Lou Wilson, director of the Chamber of Commerce, and the others who were part of this deserve a lot of credit for producing such a successful party. This three day event included the Lady Lioness hosting their spaghetti dinner, a Friday night street dance at Circle Park with a magic show on the Pavilion stage. Saturday vendor booths opened and the parade began. The Rotary Club hosted the Beer Garden while later, the Rimrock Rodeo Finals were held at the nearby rodeo grounds. Sunday was Cowboy Church and Youth Pet and Talent Show, ending the three-day party.

They estimated the crowd at 50,000 – the largest ever since the first Fall Festival Parade began 96 years ago.


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