Fruita’s Second Farm & Ranch Days a BIG Success!
The second Annual Farm & Ranch Days, sponsored by the Fruita Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Fruita Coop/Ace Hardware on March 14. It truly was a celebration of the Colorado farm and ranch lifestyle. All those involved deserve praise for giving attendees the live entertainment, the displays, the inside presentations, and the Wild Mustangs from our Bookcliffs area. A free barbeque lunch was served to the crowd, estimated to be double the size of last year’s event.
Mary Lou Wilson, President of the Fruita Chamber of Commerce, a lovely, vibrant¸intelligent woman was there, coordinating the display booths, answering questions, and assisting with the food at the two-hour barbeque lunch.
The crowd balanced their plates on their laps as they sat on bales of hay in front of the entertainment area. And entertained they were, starting with cowboy poet, Ray Lashley of Grand Junction. He recited at the Grand Junction Cowboy Poetry Gathering and at the 25th Elko, Nevada, Cowboy Poetry Gathering in January. Elko’s Cowboy Poetry week-long Gathering is one of the biggest in the West.
Ray Lashley’s memory is amazing. We chatted with him after he finished his program. While we were talking, we noticed the barbecue line getting longer and longer, so we diverted Ray over to get in the lunch line with us. He remarked to us and the couple behind us, “Just name a topic and I’ll recite for you.” The gal said, “Cowboys”. He instantly picked “Mr. Shorty”, a 19-stanza poem/song, written by Marty Robbins, to recite for us:
“There in his blue eyes was sadness
That comes from the need of a friend.
And tho’ he tried, he still couldn’t hide
The loneliness there, deep within.”
We carried our full paper plates over to the hay-bale area while the band, “Salt Creek Gang” was setting up. They play country/gospel/western music and, as their card says, they “will play anytime, anywhere, for any reason.” The leader, Bill Clark, plays guitar and does vocals with Tammy Clark, his daughter-in-law. Justin Clark, Bill’s son, plays bass. Rush Sibert plays banjo; Tei Christenhall plays snare drum and spoons while J. R. Hamm plays mandolin and harmonica. What a fun local group!
After lunch, we headed over to chat with Dan McCarty, Field Representative and Northwest manager of NCBA (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association). Dan is a local rancher and the NCBA manager for five states. He knew an old friend of ours, Frank Starbuck. (We were fortunate enough to attend Frank’s cowboy funeral held almost 2-1/2 years ago at Frank & Bubbles’ ranch on Divide Creek outside Silt, Colorado. My article about Frank and his funeral was printed in the Fence Post shortly after he died.)
Dan mentioned that Frank told his wife, Bubbles, before his death that he wanted his brand auctioned off and the money raised donated to the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association Scholarship Fund since he had been a long-time member. It was one of the oldest brands in Colorado and can be traced back to his grandfather, Asa Starbuck. At the auction, as described in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on Feb. 5, 2009, they got a record $44,000 from a local rancher, Frank’s cousin, Marvelle Couey. Her son, Kelly Couey, will keep the brand to run cattle on his ranch on Mamm Creek and, most importantly, the brand will stay in the family.
On to the “Friends of the Wild Mustangs” booth, manned by Karen Caton and Sharon Mosset. These cowgirls were handing out literature and answering questions about their love of the wild mustangs. We talked about their involvement and how people are always welcome to learn more at their meetings held at the local BLM office.
In 1971, the Wild, Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed by Congress giving jurisdiction to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Little Bookcliffs area near Grand Junction is one of only three areas in America set aside for this. Right now there are 90 – 120 wild horses sharing 36,113 acres of western Colorado land with resident elk, mountain lion, bear, and big horn sheep. It is 5 miles north of Grand Junction and there are trails to ride your horses or hike in the area from March to November. (Visit friendsofthemustangs.org).
There are two access areas, Coal Canyon and Winter Flats Rd. Coal Canyon is the closest to Grand Junction; Winter Flats Rd is through Debeque. You can get maps from the BLM local office off Horizon Dr. or view online.
We strolled over to see the Wild Mustang horses that were penned up at the edge of the Co-op’s black-topped parking area. Marty Felix, a retired teacher and another member of the “Friends of the Wild Mustangs” group, stood in front of her horse and her horse pictures, explaining the program and about those she has adopted from that area.
And there were the horses! Wonderful, magnificent, tame creatures for all to admire.
Thank you, Fruita Chamber of Commerce, for a most remarkable day!
“A ranch horse is somewhere between a teddy bear and a good pocket knife.” ” Baxter Black.