Slapstick, Disappointment and a Musical European Tour
by Leslie Vreeland
May 31, 2012 | 472 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Telluride Comedy Film Festival, Historic Cabin Tour of Disappointment Valley, and Ridgway Music Students Head Overseas

In Telluride over the next few days, you can opt for excursions into Disappointment, hilarity, or both. This Saturday, June 2, the Telluride Historical Museum offers a tour of the home of Lizzie Knight, a pioneer who emigrated from England to Colorado’s Disappointment Valley with her daughter in the 1800s. In England, Knight, who stood barely five feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds, was an expert blacksmith, a perhaps-unconventional career choice given her diminutive size and gender. But then, as a publicity release for this tour puts it, “Lizzie Smith was no stranger to the strange.” In Colorado, in yet another unconventional twist, she would marry her son-in-law, and go on to become a successful rancher and cattlewoman.

Marcia Bankston, Smith’s great-great-great granddaughter, will do a first-person impersonation of Smith, and lead a tour of the small cabin where Smith lived after marrying her new husband, Henry Knight (who divorced Lizzie’s daughter), after moving with him to the Disappointment Valley from the area that is now Rico. Just as intriguing as the tale of Smith’s unorthodox-yet-romantic hookup with her handsome former son-in-law (she used to sing a little ditty in her working-class accent about her “night with me Knight”) is the story of the cabin itself, which Bankston owns, and which was recently designated one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places, status given to a historically significant building in critical danger of being lost. Telluride architect and history buff George Greenbank, who will be along for the tour, has been something of an Architectural Angel to Bankston, having helped secure Endangered Place status for the cabin. He is hopeful the cabin and its homestead can go on to be designated a historic structure, which could qualify it for funds needed to restore it. In the meantime, “The important thing is, the house is still there,” he says. “Lizzie Knight was an amazing lady, and it’s an incredible story.” Bankston’s mother, Wilma Crisp Bankston, has written a definitive work of the area, Where Eagles Winter – History and Legend of the Disappointment Valley, and Marcia Bankston has recently completed her own biography of Lizzy Knight. ,b>For more information, visit Amazon.com, contact the Historical Museum, or email Bankston at mldot@msn.com.

Speaking of incredible stories, and history, George Greenbank will also lead a walking tour of historic downtown Telluride next Wednesday, June 6. The tour is sponsored by the Wilkinson Library, and will include stops at, and lore about, the Telluride Courthouse, the Sheridan Hotel, the old First National Bank building and the Pekkarine Building. The latter once housed a shoemaking business, which supplied cowboys in town with new boots. The cowboys would stay in Telluride for a week while their boots were being made, visiting the Red Light District, gambling and drinking. Then they went home for another year to work. “It was a great system,” Greenbank said. “Now we have festivals.” The walking tour is from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., with lunch at the museum afterward. From Disappointment to slapstick...for the past three years, Wilkinson Library has hosted a monthly Telluride Film Festival series in the spring and fall. Now it has added a monthly summer series, beginning Monday, June 4. The theme is classic comedies. “We usually show so much heavy stuff that we wanted to do something different,” said the library’s Program Director Scott Doser of the decision to keep this summer’s programming light and frothy. None of the films was made before 1945; each is a gem, and is part of a double-bill. First up is Trouble in Paradise (1932; 83 min.), a romantic triangle directed by Ernst Lubitch about two thieves who conspire to con a gorgeous perfume-company owner. “They live in a movie world of exquisite costumes, flawless grooming, butlers, grand hotels in Venice, penthouses in Paris, cocktails, evening dress, wall safes, sweeping staircases, nightclubs, the opera and jewelry, a lot of jewelry,” Roger Ebert wrote of the film. “What is curious is how real they manage to seem, in the midst of the foppery.” The second film is the screwball comedy My Man Godfrey (1936; 95 min.). It features saucy Carole Lombard alongside her then ex-husband, the sophisticate William Powell. Powell and Lombard had remained good friends after their divorce, and Powell refused to star in the film unless Lombard appeared with him. There will be a free barbecue before the screening of the comedies.

Ridgway Student Salon

The school year may officially be over, but extracurricular education continues – and if you are an aspiring musician, what better place to go for a proper education than the cities of Europe? That is the thinking behind the Ambassadors of Music program, which transports high school musicians and choir members from the U.S. to perform in London, Paris, Switzerland, Austria and other countries each summer. Ridgway K-12 Music and Band teacher Kathryn Kubinyi will take eight of her “most dedicated, 100 percent prepared” students abroad on the program this summer from June 21 to July 6. The choir students will sing in churches with other top students from across Colorado, and band members will generally play in parks and other outdoor venues, Kubinyi says. In all, about 265 students from across the state will make the trip.

A few parents are going along, too, but they will foot their own bills. Kubinyi’s students will also be paid for, but they are still raising funds to help make it happen. The trip is expensive, and “it’s required an enormous amount of fundraising,” she says. So far this year, Kubinyi has coordinated the Ridgway Rhythm Run and Casino Night at Divide Ranch events to benefit this trip; the students have also received Mount Sneffels education grants in the amount of $300 per person. On Sunday, June 10 Kubinyi and her students will host a final fundraiser: a 4 p.m. salon at Marilyn Mueller’s Divide Ranch home. The fee is $40, which includes appetizers, a main course (loin of pork, orzo with roasted red peppers) and dessert. Most importantly, the fee includes a concert, where each student will give a solo performance. “The kids are super excited” to perform, Kubinyi says – not only in the Mueller home, but the great capitals of Europe. Please RSVP to Becky Mueller by phone at 970/626-4411 or email at RGMueller1@gmail.com for tickets, directions or a request for the menu.

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