“Where the Wild Still Lives” is the theme of the 42nd annual Escalante Days and Nights festival in Dolores Aug. 10-11.
The downtown festival began in 1976 to commemorate the nearby Escalante Ruin, a prehistoric pueblo documented by Spanish explorers in 1776.
The Dominguez-Escalante Expedition climbed a hill and correctly reported that the ancient dwelling on top was culturally linked to the living pueblos along the Rio Grande and at Acoma, Hopi and Zuni.
Its discovery helped to set off a wave of archaeological interest in Southwest Colorado that continues today.
The inaugural Escalante Days was attended by Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm as part of the state’s Centennial celebration, which included naming nearby Centennial Peak.
The festival recognizes Dolores’ logging history with the popular arm-wrestling and men’s and women’s chain saw contests on Central Avenue.
Events include classic summer sideshows such as water fights, hula hoop demonstrations,and watermelon-eating contests. It also features a softball tournament and a popular mountain bike race on the trails above Dolores.
On Saturday, there will be a music festival at the Dolores River Brewery, where revelers can enjoy “10 bands for 10 bucks” performing on two outdoor stages. This year’s lineup is The Aloha Club at 2 p.m., Bradley Sitton at 3:15 p.m., Hurricane Jake at 3:45 p.m., Donny Johnson at 5 p.m., Genuine Cowhide at 5:30 p.m., Little Brother at 6:45 p.m., Last Nickel at 7:15 p.m., Niceness at 9 p.m., and The Crags at 10:45 p.m. Local comedian Jill Carlson also will perform.
Highlights of Escalante Days:
Friday5:30 p.m.: The Kid Bike Parade kicks off. Line up at the Dolores General Store at Third Street and Central Avenue.6 p.m.: The Kid Bike Rodeo, with free bike giveaways and helmets. The event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Dolores.7 p.m.: The ice cream-eating contest, sponsored by the Dolores General Store.Saturday6 a.m.: The K-9 Search and Rescue Team serves up its annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser at the Dolores Doghouse next door to the Dolores Fire Station. Plates with sausage and bacon are $5.7 p.m.: The softball tournament begins at Joe Rowell Park. For more information, call Grant Hobbs at 970-560-8709.9:50 a.m.: The 20th Annual Escalante Days Mountain Bike Race. Go to doloresrace.com for all the details and different race routes.10 a.m.: The Escalante Days Parade, led by Citizen of the Year Linnea Vass and Business of the Year the Dolores River Brewery.11 a.m.: The famous chain saw contest, followed at noon by the watermelon-eating contest and balloon toss.1 p.m.: The arm-wrestling contest and the debut of the hula hoop contest, which is sponsored by the Traditional Charm Antique Mall.Many organizations come together to put on the games and events for Escalante Days, said Rocky Moss, director of the Dolores Chamber of Commerce.
This year, 53 vendors plan to set up in Flanders Park as the games play out on Central Avenue. Organizers estimate that the event attracts 1,000 people every year, and businesses report a spike in sales.
Also, the Snaggletooth Saloon will offer adult beverages for the event at the Corner of Fifth Street and Central Avenue. A selfie booth will be set up at the saloon along with a 17-foot hole-in-one putter game.
The Galloping Goose historic rail bus will offer free rides all day. The Four Corners Community Band will perform, local businesses will have sales, and the Westfork Gallery will have its popular rug sale again.
“Come to Dolores for games in the street, vendors galore and 10 bands at the pub,” Moss said.
“For newcomers, the must-see events are the chain saw and arm-wrestling contests. The strongman skills are fascinating to watch and harken back to the days when Dolores was a lumber town.”
For more information on Escalante Days, go to the Dolores Chamber website at doloreschamber.com.