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Gateway … Colorado’s hidden treasure

Peggy Malone Fruita, Colo.

For the past several years cowboy poets and singers alike have had the pleasure of setting aside a special night to help raise money for the Gateway 4-H Club, “Gateway Merry Mixers.”

This is an event we all look forward to early each spring. What makes it so special are the families that attend this old fashioned good time. It’s very evident that the children in the Gateway area are the focus of their Cowboy Heritage Future. Us entertainers find it refreshingly upbeat to watch the interaction of all the different generations under one roof. Seems like everybody knows everyone … like in the old days. It’s like stepping back in time, when family was the center of your learning experiences.

The families that attend this yearly function range in age from just a few months old into their 90s. Quite a contrast that mingles like chocolate syrup on ice cream. A combination that soothes the soul away from the daily news and stuff on T.V. that makes one wonder if this could still be real. But it is! This secluded little town of Gateway, Colo., is absolutely real.

The Moores family and relatives put on a wonderful, delicious, ‘stew dinner’ along with home made bread and cookies. Coffee is always hot, and lemonade for the kids. No soda pop. Like I said “Old Fashioned” hospitality.

After the dinner crowd settles down, the tables are put away and the chairs are lined up in front of their newly constructed stage. It is decorated in true western style, with an old pair of weathered chaps, Elk horns and well worn saddles. Oh, yes … must not forget the campfire that is set in the middle of the stage, stacked with wood and branding irons.

While setting up the P.A. Sound System, this little feller, about 3-years-old, came up to me and pointed at the wood in the campfire. He nonchalantly said, with a hint of pride, “That’s the piece of wood I carried in!” Of course, I said that ‘that’ piece of wood is what made that campfire all the more special. He was definitely happy that someone had recognized his youthful efforts to help make the evening a success.

Once the folks were all settled down, it was time to begin the show, which was emceed by the 4-H kids themselves. The cowboy poets each did a real fine job entertaining with their tall tales and true stories. Their animated deliveries garner the attention of the crowd, and put them in the situations they recite. Cowboy Poetry is a very unique art form, and most is written from their own experiences. Sometimes you feel that you better hold onto your chairs, or you just might get bucked right off that bronco and land in a fresh cow pie! They paint a picture in your mind, that you take home with you. It becomes that real.

Cowboy Poets that attended this year’s Gateway Gathering are Terry Nash, Ray Lashley, Tom Sharp, Al Albrethsen, Slim Farnsworth and yours truly.

As I eagerly await for my turn, and thinking of the songs I’m about to sing, the songs keep changing with the mood of the children. They always spy my herd of stick hosses that are strewn on either side of the stage. The little buckaroos, especially, can’t seem to hold back their enthusiasm, and keep asking me, “When can we ride the horses?!”

Well, singing low key songs goes right out the window, cuz you just got to do “Ghost Riders In The Sky” and “Rawhide.” When I’m called up to the stage, the stick hosses disappear in a cloud of dust! It really makes me laugh, just picturing what happened next. One little fellow, about 2-1/2-years-old strolled up looking for a stick hoss to ride. And, when two older kids saw his disappointment that they were all taken, they immediately put him in the middle of the one they were riding double on, and the three of them took off for their trail ride around the room. They were all smiles! It was another reminder how they all look out for each other.

Another fun part of the evening is their Silent Auction. They also auction off home made pies and cakes. With tickets in hand, they all anxiously wait to see if their number is called, for the door prizes. All in all, a good time is had by all.

Well folks, another year has gone by and it has left my heart with warm memories of Gateway, where ranching is ‘still’ a way of life. Spurs still jingle jangle. Kids learn the proper way to stack hay and live the Cowboy Way of life. Where old folks and young alike have a whole lot in common love of life.

So, next spring, keep your ears peeled for the big ‘little’ Shin-dig in this hidden mountain valley. A treasure of a town called Gateway. The ride out there on Highway 141 is quite awesome in itself. See y’all next year!


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