There were those who wondered whether the recent True Grit Days inaugural celebration would catch on the first time out of the chute. The results certainly silenced the skeptics. It was a blow out.
From my vantage point searing animal products for nine straight hours I saw people having a lot of fun. If food consumption was any indicator, then it was a total blow out. The food vendors were out of food long before the movie started.
The upshot is that people in our community love to get together – to feel a sense of community. Feeling the sense of community takes some effort. In my neighborhood there is a sort of mental accounting that when people head out for the post office (or wherever) they have allotted a certain amount of time to do so. Stopping to chat doesn’t fall into that allotment so a wave is what we share from behind the wheel of our respective automobiles. But a community gathering is different. We allot an afternoon and let the socializing happen. I saw lots of neighbors who I haven’t more than waved to in months. I can’t wait until the next event.
The problem is that once the temperatures drop where can we get together? We need to have a community meeting place indoors. It has to be spacious and allowance for music is essential. So what better indoor venue than a spacious gymnasium with adjunct performing arts studio? We could all view the ice sculptures out on the lawn and then come inside to continue the celebration; or, perhaps do the whole Arts and Crafts Fair or Climbing Fair while it snows and blows outside.
So not only did we have a lot of fun at the Grit Days event, but we even raised some money during the day. The skateboarding event brought in several hundred and got rave reviews. Kudos go to the Middleton family for pulling that together. T-shirts, bandannas and lawn signs helped with a few hundred more thanks to Susan Firkins and her crew of students. The food sales and train ride brought in a couple thousand thanks to the firefighters and bunch of volunteers in the food venue. The total for the day was just over $3,500. We hope our fundraising contributed to the fun. Even flipping burgers all day was pretty fun because we had a good group of people.
Nevertheless, we’re going to need a little more help to collect what we need for the Secondary School initiative. Even if we could have a True Grit day every day from now until March (Can you imagine how ragged both the park and Danny would look after just a week?), we would add an incremental $600,000 to the funds, leaving us $1.6 million short of what is required. Hence, what you can take away from this article is the following:
* Ridgway loves to play. We play well together and have a lot of fun. No brawls – unlike what we saw on the news in Southern California. Who would even think of starting trouble with so much good music, food and a lady walking around with a full-grown mountain lion (the lovely Ruby) in tow? We just need to play year round with an indoor venue.
* We have to step up our efforts. It seems “the many” are still watching the “the few” zealots get this thing going to see if it is really going to happen. When we hit the half million mark in our fund raising a few weeks back it should have served notice that we can make this happen.
* There is also a huge need for more volunteers. The few who are carrying the torch are starting to tire a bit. The same faces working the True Grit event were those who have been with us since the beginning. We could really use a few new faces and sets of hands.
* If you’re not yet convinced, come to the Kick-Off Event on Saturday the 15th from 5:30 until 7 p.m. Have a look at the plans. See where the gym, climbing wall and performing arts studio will be. Check out renderings of the exterior. Soak in a sense of what we will have in the form of an indoor venue that can accommodate the entire town for sports, music, festivals, dinners, gatherings, art shows, performances, and any other excuse that we can make to get our community together.
On Saturday I went for a bike ride with my friend, Doug Price. We stopped by to see Dennis Weaver’s eagle because Doug hadn’t visited that wonderful but subtly hidden site. We chatted casually with two other visitors there and conversation turned to the appeal of Ridgway. It was then that Lupita (like so many legendary figures who can get by with just one name) summed it all up by saying that, “Ridgway is real.”
I thought about this for a long time afterwards. She is right. That sums it up. Ridgway is real. So is Ouray for that matter. And when you get this eclectic bunch of people together to play it is a lot of fun. We just need a place to play – year round – indoors as well as out.
Don’t forget the Kick-Off Barbecue on Saturday!
Dale Hagemeyer is a member of the Communications Committee for the Ridgway Secondary School Gym/Performing Arts Studio Funding Committee. He lives in the Pleasant Valley area of Ridgway.