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Backcountry Film Festival – The 12th annual Backcountry Film Festival is coming to the San Luis Valley on February 11th, 2017 to celebrate winter recreation! Join us at Carson Auditorium on Adams State University’s campus between 6:30pm and 7:00pm for the film starts at 7:00pm. Tickets are available online or at the door. For more information and ticket sales visit or call us at 513-600-8053.


Summitville – Del Norte will be the place to be on April 22, 2017.  There will be something for everyone to make a day enjoying the town and all we have to offer. Shopping, dining, seeing the Denver Broncos at the High Valley Community Center, being part of the El Pomar presentation and attending a program at the Rio Grande County Museum of “Summitville –Then and Now” would make a great Saturday. A visit through the newly remodeled High Valley Community Center will be a rewarding experience to see what is being done for our community’s children. A walk with the Historic Del Norte Walking Tour would show the history of the old buildings and the businesses presently in them.

The reception at the Museum will start at 10:00 and continue through the afternoon with a “round table discussion” from those who lived and worked in Summitville.  Steve Crawford and Konnie Kennen from Wildwood Sounds will provide music prior to the discussion.  Crawford was a baby at Summitville with his parents living and working there.  Others scheduled to be part of the afternoon are Bill Ellithorpe, who mined at Summitville, Lee Roy Fuchs who worked at the mines and Floyd and Glen Getz, who as children, worked with their parents with grazing sheep in the area.

For more information, please call Rio Grande County Museum at (719) 657-2847 or High Valley Community Center at (719) 657-2172.  The Museum email is



“Veterans of the Valley, Part I:  The Civil War”

The story of the Civil War will be presented with a different point of view at the Rio Grande County Museum in Del Norte on May 20th.  Mikayla Baird, Museum Assistant and Researcher, has approached this major part of American history by  telling the family stories of the veterans who helped to build Del Norte, Monte Vista, South Fork and the surrounding farming communities in Rio Grande County.  She will also give a talk on the Civil War with the politics and other historic events.

This research project was started by museum volunteer, Shirley Kernen, who compiled a list of names and grave markers in the Del Norte Cemetery.  The next step was conducted last Veterans’ Day with Steve Nicolais, Alex Colville, Louise Colville when Mikayla took them to the Del Norte Cemetery where they searched out and photographed the markers of the veterans that Mrs. Kernen had found in her research.

To date, Mikayla has researched approximately sixty to seventy veterans from Rio Grande County.  It has shown that Rio Grande County has a mixture of Union and Confederates and how once the War was over and the movement west had started, these men and their families came together and built our county.   She has found that we had at least two black soldiers who lived and worked in Del Norte and one was an original “Buffalo Soldier.”  These two men are buried in the Homelake Cemetery. This project will be ongoing as more veterans are found.  Hopefully, the next step in our Veterans Project will be the Spanish-American War and World War I.  This phase of the project has been researched for the last six months and will continue.

The result of this research has led to families coming into the Museum with their family stories of their ancestors.  It is hope and desire of the Museum staff to have more families want to share their important stories.  A benefit from this work is now the Museum can expand our ability to help with genealogy research.

The Homelake Veterans’ History Center Museum has also contributed to the work with the information that is provided on their website database.  The Find A Grave website listings for Monte Vista, Del Norte, Homelake has given dates and other information that has been very important in the project.  Polly Cox and Rosalind Weaver have worked hard to keep good information on the Del Norte site and are providing information from their files.

The program, Veterans of the Valley, Part I, The Civil War, will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 20 with the reception starting at 10:00 a.m. to provide time to visit the exhibits, read the stories and enjoy the other artifacts. Members of the Fort Garland Memorial Regiment will be on hand during the day.  Suzanne Bothell arranged with her sister and brother-in-law to provide re-enactment items to show the uniform and personal items from the period.  Quotes and recipes of the time will be included in the exhibit.  For the experience, “hard tack”may be available for sampling.

The exhibit “Summitville – Then and Now is still open and runs until the end of June.

For more information, please contact the Rio Grande County Museum at (719)657-2847 or by email at Regular museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Admission is $2 per person and $1 for children from 6 to 16.  Admission is waived on event days, but donations are accepted to help with fundraising for museum projects.  Rio Grande County Museum is a Blue Star Museum which gives free admission to veterans and active military members and their families.



Veterans in the Valley – On May 20th at the Rio Grande County Museum – “The Civil War Part I”, will be presented by Museum Assistant, Mikala Baird, who will explore the Civil War through stories, maps and music, its historical impact on the nation and how this relates to the veterans who settled in the San Luis Valley and those buried in cemeteries in our county. The overall program “Veterans of the Valley” will be a continuing exhibit in the museum.  Follow us on Facebook.






The Saguache County Museum is “Back in the Saddle” again planning the 59th Opening Day Celebration for Sunday, May 28th.  In addition, it will indeed be a day of celebration as Saguache County will be 150 years old.

The Pancake Breakfast kicks off the day in the Otto Mears Park Pavilion 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM.  Come hungry for pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee – all for only $5.00 a person.

At 8:00 A.M., Gaylon Myers will conduct a Cowboy Prayer Service in Otto Mears Park.

At 9:00 A.M., the Museum opens for its 59th year.  New to the Museum this year is a display of Gotthelf furniture in the Virginia Sutherland Room, a renovated Mineral Room with a new blue light, and a Memorial Case honoring Jim Coleman.  The new Images book, #7 in the series, will be on sale; plus other historical books will be on sale for $5.00 each.

Admission to the Museum is $7.00 for adults and $1.00 for each child 12 and under.  The Museum will be open 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM through mid-September.

Visit the vendors in Otto Mears Park and in the Saguache Community Building, beginning at 9:00 AM.  If you would like to be a vendor, please contact Jeannie Ewing at 719-480-2920.

The Happy 150th Birthday Parade honoring Saguache County starts at 11:00 AM on 4th Street.  Larry Ward, long time Saguache County rancher, will serve as the Parade Marshall.  The parade line-up begins at 10:00 AM in front of Mountain Valley School.  Any businesses, farmers, ranchers, and residents of Saguache County are invited to participate in the parade.  Please contact Lynn Sutherland at 719-256-4279 for further information.

Enjoy a hot dog lunch at the Otto Mears Park Pavilion from Noon to 2 PM for $5.00 a plate.

The kids will have fun at the Fish Pond in the park.

At the Museum, Margaret Mizushima will be signing copies of her latest book, Stalking Ground, published by Crooked Lane.  It was named a finalist in the 2017 Colorado Book Awards mystery category. This is the second in the series of her Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

Friends of the Library will be serving their famous Root Beer floats in the Museum yard.  And, Larry Ward will be available to sign T-shirts with his picture – be sure to get yours while they last.

Everyone is invited to Saguache County’s 150th Birthday on Sunday afternoon, May 28th, at 2:00 PM in the Community Building.  Enjoy cake, cupcakes, and brownies, along with lemonade and iced tea.  Elvie Samora, and others, will provide the entertainment.

For further information about the day’s events on May 28th or to participate in the 59th Opening celebration of the Saguache County Museum, or for information about Saguache County’s 150th Birthday Celebration, contact Dorraine Gasseling at 719-256-4281.


Alamosa ArtScape – “The City of Alamosa will celebrate 17 sculptures created by artists from near and far on June 2nd at 5:30pm at the Alamosa Welcome Center (SE corner of State and 6th St). The community is encouraged to join the celebration.”

Ride the Rockies – Kicks off in Alamosa to Salida on June 10th –


Saguache County Museum

Presents Karen Ballentine

July 9th

Karen Ballentine of 19th-Century News will be presenting a free program on Sunday, July 9th, at 1:30 PM, and will be doing a book signing.  Karen has written books about Alamosa, the San Luis Valley, and is currently working on a book about Spook City, which was near Saguache.

Karen would really appreciate any information you have to share about Spook City,

Karen has been an avid reader since childhood, and has been particularly drawn to stories of everyday people found in 19th century newspapers.  She started reading the stories on microfilm in the 1990’s, and reads them online today.

Why does Karen read newspaper stories from over 100 years ago? Here are a few reasons:

  • It’s just plain fun and a welcome escape from current news.
  • You can read about history as it was actually happening.
  • You will learn what everyday life was like in the 19th century and will gain an appreciation for modern conveniences like indoor toilets, paved roads, etc.
  • You can shock your children by showing them that life existed before television, cell phones, and the internet.
  • You will “meet” amazing people who did amazing things.
  • You will be entertained by stories that are funny, sad, interesting, informative, scary, unbelievable, and sometimes horrible. Some of these stories went viral and were published in newspapers all across the country.
  • You will learn that even though times have changed quite a lot, people have not.

Refreshments will be served.  Donations are always appreciated.

Connie Rapalski, 719-298-7940


Wade Collins Exhibit – On July 15 the Rio Grande County Museum will host an exhibit of Wade Collins, western artist and storyteller from Saguache will open his art show that will run into August and be part of the exhibit for Covered Wagon Days.  You can contact us at:

Ride The Cosmic Highway 2017 Conference – Beginning Friday, July 28 and ending July 30. Go to for the list of speakers, activities, fees and registration.

Saguache’s Hollyhock Festival – We also actively support other events and produce a Community Calendar which is available on the Chamber website

Great Sand Dunes – Summer events kick off with a book signing and presentation at the visitor center on Saturday, July 22 at 2 p.m. Author Veronica Tiller will present on the culture and history of the Jicarilla Apaches, including their contributions to Colorado history. Her book, “Images of America: The Jicarilla Apache of Dulce,” chronicles the 1887-2000 history of the Jicarilla Apache through pictorial history. She is also the author of “Jicarilla Apache Tribe: A History and The Culture and Customs of the Jicarilla Apache.” Shortly after her presentation, join her for a book signing at the visitor center. Both books are available at the Western National Parks Association store in the visitor center, 8:30a.m. to 5 p.m.



Rhythms on the Rio – August 4-6th – More info coming…

Hayride into History – On August 5th the Rio Grande County Museum will be partnering with the Covered Wagon Days and the Old Spanish Trail’s La Vereda del Norte Chapter.  “Hayride into History” will be researched by the Museum staff and will be featured with hay wagon rides through town.  This may be a two-day event if there is enough interest.  Stop in and enjoy a serving of ice cream.  Follow us on Facebook.


Rio Grande County Museum Events during Covered Wagon Days (Aug 5th)

Rio Grande County Museum will host Angie Krall, Forest Archaeologist for the Rio Grande National Forest, with a presentation about the on-going research at the Bunker Site (5SH614) a high potential paraje (camp) associated with the Old Spanish National Historic Trail (OSNHT) in Saguache County.  The presentation will emphasize the unique assemblage recovered at the site.

The Bunker site is a 16 acre area that was discovered several years ago by ranchers, Bob and Shirley Bunker.  It is located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristos on the East Fork of the Old Spanish Trail.  Excavation and research have revealed that the site may have been used for over a thousand years.

The traveling display currently showing in the Rio Grande County Museum was developed by Lorrie Crawford and Anita McDaniel, Director of Ft Garland Museum.

Wade Collins will also be at the Museum during Covered Wagon Days as the featured artist.  His paintings and sculptures will be on display through the middle of August.

His paintings are actual life experiences and his art work is a way of keeping the memories.  He celebrates his life with his art and enjoys a life style that the rest of us may only dream.  He loves the mountains and his studio is nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Collins will be at the museum on Saturday, August 5th after the Covered Wagon Days Parade.  The Bunker Site program will be at 2:00 p.m. on August 5th.

For more information, please contact the Rio Grande County Museum at (719) 657-2847; email at and visit the Rio Grande County website and the Museum Facebook page.


Featured artists at Rio Grande County Museum

Wade Collins and Byron Williams, artists from Saguache, will both be part of the art shows and displays with Rio Grande County Museum.  Collins will show his western art through the middle of August and is the featured artist in the Museum for Covered Wagon Days.  He will be present on August 5th to talk to people and discuss his work.  He has a wide variety being shown, everything from large saw blades, paintings, bronze sculptures to delicately painted Christmas ornaments.

Last year, Byron Williams was a featured artist in the museum.  His show was a great success and the museum will be bringing him back into the Museum to have some of his work for sale in the bookstore.

Williams works with natural materials making baskets, sculptures, rattles     and masks.                                     Photo courtesy of Rio Grande County Museum Staff

Williams will show his work again at the Museum starting in August.  His Saguache Gallery location is 301 5th Street and the name is Smith Market Gallery.

Both of these artists will be showing their work at the Hollyhock Festival in Saguache on July 29th.

For more information, please contact the Rio Grande County Museum, 580 Oak Street, Del Norte, Colorado.  The phone number is (719)657-2847 or email at


Saguache County Museum – Saguache Sunday Showings – August 6th

Join Alice S. Stephenson, BSN, RN, PN (retired) for the free Sunday program at 1:30 PM on August 6 at the Saguache County Museum.  A native of Steamboat Springs, Mrs. Stephenson wrote Three Scuffed Suitcases, a biography from the diaries of Mary Elizabeth (Bess) Shellabarger, a World War I nurse from the San Luis Valley.

When Bess Shellabarger died in her 80’s, she left her grandniece, Alice, three old, beat-up suitcases full of 60 years worth of diaries…and instructions to write her memoirs.

Learn about Bess, a dedicated nurse, an amazing woman, her career choices and world travels through Alice Stephenson’s power point presentation. Bess spent her career paving the way for other women to attain an education and contribute to the workforce.  She returned often to her home, the ranch at Rio Alto.

Refreshments will be served.  Donations are always appreciated.


Old Spanish Trail – On August 5th during the Covered Wagon Days the Old Spanish Trail’s La Vereda del Norte Chapter will host outdoor events on the patios of the Rio Grande County Museum and will be coordinating with exhibits inside the Museum that will feature the Rio Grande blankets that traders on the trail would have taken from Santa Fe to Los Angeles.

Saguache’s Art Festival – We also actively support other events and produce a Community Calendar which is available on the Chamber website

The Great Sand Dunes – • This year, Great Sand Dunes will celebrate Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, August 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Activities will take place at the Dunes Parking Area with an orientation table and face painting at the South Ramada Picnic Area in the Mosca Creek picnic area. Activities will allow Junior Rangers to learn more about park resources and earn prizes. Collect a sticker after completing each activity and pick up your prizes at the South Ramada picnic area. This event is made possible with generous support from Friends of the Dunes and the staff and volunteers at Great Sand Dunes.

• David Boye will perform a free one-hour concert at the outdoor amphitheater on Saturday, August 12, at 7 p.m. David Boye has been a Composer-in-Residence at numerous national parks, writing and performing nature-inspired acoustic guitar music.

• Author, Michelle Rodenburg, will be available on Saturday, August 19, from 12-2p.m. for a book signing of her children’s books, “Colorado Creatures, an Alphabet book” and “The Twelve Days of summer in Colorado.” Michelle is a well-established Colorado author whose books make reading fun as well as educational for children. Both books are available at the Western National Parks Association store in the visitor center, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Author and photographer Robert Castellino will be signing copies of his book, “Life and Light on the Land” on Saturday, August 26 from 12-2 p.m. at the visitor center. Among his many photographic accomplishments, he is most highly regarded for writing, photographing and publishing five photographic story and guide books entitled “Boulder: Heart and Soul, People, and Place,” and “Colorado: Heart and Soul,” to name a few. His book is available at the Western National Parks Association store in the visitor center, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.



The Rio Grande County Museum in Del Norte to host a Agricultural Fall Festival.

Rio Grande Fall Festival and Exhibit – Update as of 09/18:

Fall has arrived and with it, the time of harvest.  The farm and ranching families throughout the history of Rio Grande County found this to be the time of seed shows, fairs and with some of the rural churches, time for the “Harvest Home” celebrations.  It is a time of hard work, but also the time that the money from the year’s work will soon be coming so that the farmer and rancher can make it through the winter and to the next growing season.

Rio Grande County Museum is honoring the farmers and ranchers in our long agricultural history who helped to build our county as well as the farmers and ranchers who continue working and are a major part of the economy of the county.  The story of the German Prisoners of War who helped with the harvests for three years during World War II has been put into a display and is taken from the point of view of the Extension Agent, A. A. Goodman, who was in the office during that period of time.

On September 23rd from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. a reception will be held to open the exhibit showing photos, stories and artifacts related to agriculture.  The exhibit will run through November.   The refreshment will reflect the cultures of the German, Swiss, Austrian and Hispanics.

The Museum is always interested in stories from the area and not only agriculture, but family stories that need to be preserved.  Just a simple phone call to the museum can bring these stories to life.

For more information, please contact the Rio Grande County Museum at (719)657-2847 or by email at  Follow us on our Facebook page or on our website of Rio Grande County or Museum Trail Association.  The Museum is located at 580 Oak Street in Del Norte.



Saguache’s Fall Festival & Quilt Show – We also actively support other events and produce a Community Calendar which is available on the Chamber website

Great Sand Dunes – • Marilyn Feather will lead a wilderness photography workshop on Saturday, September 9 (location and TBD), focusing on the wild, natural character of the park and preserve. Marilyn has been a resident artist at a wide variety of national parks and wilderness areas, and her work has been exhibited nationally. The workshop is free but there is limited space available, call the visitor center at 719-378-6395 to reserve a spot.

• On Saturday, September 30 at 7 p.m., William Probeck will lead a 1.5-hour smart phone photography workshop, specifically focusing on the phone’s capabilities to take surprisingly high-quality images. The workshop is free but there is limited space available, call the visitor center at 719-378-6395 to reserve a spot.

The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) invites the whole community to the conservation celebration of the year: the sixth annual Headwaters Hoedown, on Saturday, September 23rd from noon to 4 pm. This year the Hoedown will again be at the beautiful La Garita Creek Ranch, on the west side of the Valley, just south of Penitente Canyon and west of the La Garita Store. Hosted by the ranch owners, the Carruthers Family, and manager, Mike Spearman (also RiGHT’s Board Chairman), the La Garita Creek Ranch is locally known as the “Balloon Ranch”, thanks to its history of holding ballooning events. This will be an opportunity for our friends and supporters to enjoy the beauty of this private ranch that is on track to be conserved. As always, kids are most welcome. Weather permitting, we’ll be enjoying the afternoon in a meadow tucked between the creek and the fascinating canyon walls, framing the view across the valley to Mount Blanca and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. And the ranch’s guest lodge is available for backup, if the weather is not so favorable. Either way, it will be a lovely place to gather, to listen (and dance!) to the fabulous music of Don Richmond and the Rifters, and to enjoy a barbeque from Pepita Catering, with plenty of fine wine and beer. The ever-popular Silent Auction will offer fabulous items from local artists, businesses and adventurers, from fishing float trips to dinners and theater tickets to ski lift tickets — and more. A highlight of the afternoon is RiGHT’s 2017 “Save the Ranch” campaign, with this year’s featured property being the Olguin Ranch just south of the confluence of the Rio Grande. This is a chance for the community to invest directly in conservation, helping RiGHT to complete conservation of the spectacular scenery and important wildlife habitat along both the Rio Grande and the Conejos River. “Here at RiGHT, we are grateful to the landowners who choose to conserve their land with us,” said RiGHT’s Executive Director, Nancy Butler. “We continue to have tremendous interest and opportunities to protect important working lands, water and wildlife habitat. We’re working hard to meet the rising interest and work with the families that are reaching out to us. And we know that conservation can only be achieved with the help of our community and partners. We appreciate everyone who has been part of this effort since 1999 and we look forward to yet another worthy celebration of the conservation that has been accomplished with the help of so many. Along with our community, we think the Valley is a very special place – and we know that if we continue to work together, we can keep it that way!” For more information, directions, and to get your early bird price of $30 (the price goes to $35 on September 12th and kids 16 and under are free), please visit our website at or call us at our Del Norte office at 719-657-0800. We look forward to celebrating with you!



Christmas at the Museum this year is focused on the Gift Shoppe and Snow People as fundraising for the Rio Grande County Museum, Inc. 501 (c) 3 Corporation that helps to fund many of the activities, events and supplies and equipment used in the Museum.  This year, the board has purchased the computer and scanners for the photo digitization project for the large collection of photos in order to preserve and protect them and to be able have them online for viewing.  Fundraising has started to purchase plastic sleeves for the very large newspaper collection.  This will make the newspapers more accessible for use by researchers.

The proceeds from the sales of the Snow People by Rosie B. will also fund several of these projects.  Each Snow Person is individually crafted and named and the purchase price is $8.95. Come find your perfect “Snow Mate.”

Books, jewelry by Patti Haught, wooden vases by Alex Colville, pot holders by Jean Hanna as a few of the items for sale.  The perfect Christmas gift may be at the Museum for that hard to find person.  A membership to the Museum may also be considered for a gift for that hard to buy for person.

The Rio Grande County Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  For more information, please contact the Museum at (7190657-2847 or Rio Grande County Museum Facebook.