Seriously, mamas – please don't let them grow up to be cowboys

by Ted Holteen

I was talking with a friend just before writing this week’s column in the hopes of divining some inspiration to prevent me from painting a thousand-word picture of Fiesta Days this weekend. (I’ll try to keep it to a few hundred.) My friends, for the most part, tend to be morons, and sure enough, “Shawn” came through with a winner. “Why is this town always so boring?” he wondered. As one charged with the coverage of A&E in an R&R town, it’s easy to forget that most of the good stuff around here goes on while the sun is still shining. A spike in nightlife is a nice diversion every so often, but if you really need to spend five or six nights a week in a bar, you can do that in Tulsa or Detroit and not feel guilty about sitting inside all day waiting for happy hour. And I don’t know about Tulsa, but I’m almost certain that Detroit doesn’t have Fiesta Days. So enjoy these days of melanoma and West Nile, keep plenty of beer in the fridge, and for God’s sake, don’t ask my friends for advice on what to do with your spare time.

The Durango Chamber of Commerce, by whatever acronym it goes by nowadays, has traditionally sold our town to vacationers with two general pitches. The first plays on the aforementioned good stuff and makes up the bulk of the brochure pics – biking, skiing, rafting, outdoor playground, etc. Rad. But what of the image of Durango as the Old West town? With all the adrenaline junkies and, well, just plain junkies, running about, it’s not until we’re nearly run off a county road by a 9-foot-tall Dodge 2500 on the center line that we remember that there are plenty of cowboys around, too. Lucky for you, they’ll be all over town this weekend for Fiesta Days, the one weekend of the year when Wranglers will outnumber bike shorts on Main Avenue and the Wild Horse will turn a profit. It starts tonight, Thursday, with a street dance at 5 p.m. that includes a pie auction and dunk tank for local politicians. A trick I learned at the Jersey shore is to throw the ball directly at the dunkee’s face. Even though the wire mesh protects the victim, they inevitably flinch and fall off the little seat into the brine anyway. It’s fun. That’s followed by three days of rodeo at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, or at least what a rodeo might look like on Mars. This rodeo includes wild cow milking, wild steer decorating, wiener dog races, and probably another pie auction if they don’t all sell on Thursday night. Also Friday, they’ll be crowning this year’s rodeo queen, which to avoid confusion must by rule be held in a separate arena from the wild cow milking contest. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a parade on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., and a chuck wagon cook-off later in the day featuring the losers from the steer decorating contest. So you see, it’s kind of like Snowdown, but with even more horseshit. I’m going to Denver to see my beloved Phillies, so y’all enjoy the festivities.

Thankfully, the organizers of Music in the Mountains were blissfully ignorant of Fiesta Days when making this year’s schedule, sparing us from a “playful” arrangement of “Don’t Fence Me In” for strings or “Home on the Range Overture in C Minor.” The festival is in full swing, and once again I’ll just highlight the big shows, keeping in mind that there are things happening all over town, at the college, and in Pagosa Springs. Until the ad is pulled in the Telegraph classifieds to find someone to deliver the paper to Pagosa, I will proceed as if it didn’t exist. For the rest of you, here’s the week in preview:

Friday – Tent at DMR: Johann Sebastian Bach died on this day in 1750 at the age of 65 from complications following eye surgery. I would’ve thought they’d have perfected eye surgery by the 18th century, but I guess he just wasn’t a fighter. None of Bach’s work will be heard tonight, but the night is highlighted by the very entertaining pianist Avi Reichert, who will be the soloist on Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto.

Sunday – DMR: Beethoven’s 7th Symphony is the main event, with a piano concerto by Saint-Saens for the undercard. And wait’ll you see the ring girls!

Tuesday – DMR: Chamber music; good, angry Russian stuff from Prokofiev. I like angry Russian stuff. That’s followed by a sleeper from Dvorak that should give you time to re-up on your drinks before a great piano quartet by Schumann.

By the way … the FLC Concert Hall’s free bluegrass thing continues today with The Badly Bent, winners of this year’s Telluride band competition. That’s a big deal for them, as is their first CD, which came out a few months back. That’s tonight, Thursday at 6 p.m., and it’s free … something called Aphrodesia, an 11-piece Afrobeat orchestra, will somehow try to fit onto the stage at The Summit on Saturday night … Freewill Recovery will be the first band to play at the new Pride of the West bar in Silverton, on Saturday night at 9 p.m. (formerly the Trail’s End).

Send me some of that great cowboy poetry. Go outside and play. •



In this week's issue...

May 14, 2020
The great re-awakening

Shrouded in unknowns, the timeline for re-opening some businesses in Colorado came into clearer view Tuesday.

May 15, 2020
The best defense

Pandemics often bring pandemonium. It is easy to be fearful about coronavirus. But we already possess the greatest weapon on Earth against it: our amazing body and its powerful immune system.

May 7, 2020
Yes! The Farmers Market is opening

It may be hard to imagine, but while us humans are shuttered away in our houses, or hiding behind facemasks and Zoom meetings, the natural world is going on without us.