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Brown Bag Lecture Series draws to close

Jim Patterson
Laurel Watson discusses her book "The Yampa Valley Sin Circuit: Historic Red Light Districts of Routt and Moffat Counties" during a July 2014 Brown Bag Lecture Series event at the Tread of Pioneers Museum. This year's Brown Bag Lecture Series is drawing to a close, with two more entries set for Aug. 26 and Sept. 2.
Courtesy Photo

Brown Bag Lecture Series

What: Shaunna Watterson presents "Red Grandpa/Grey Grandpa," the history of the McPhee and Campbell families.

When: Noon, Friday, Aug. 26

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.

Cost: Free

What: Retired photographer and videographer Modesto Compestine narrates “Four Seasons,” a 1960s film he created for rancher Frank Harrison documenting one man and his team of horses haying, feeding and moving cattle, and breaking horses over the course of one year.

When: Noon, Friday, Sept. 2

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.

Cost: Free

— Those interested in the history of Routt County and the Yampa Valley have a couple more opportunities this summer to hear a bit of that history directly from the descendants of the pioneer families who lived it.

Brown Bag Lecture Series

What: Shaunna Watterson presents “Red Grandpa/Grey Grandpa,” the history of the McPhee and Campbell families.

When: Noon, Friday, Aug. 26

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.

Cost: Free

What: Retired photographer and videographer Modesto Compestine narrates “Four Seasons,” a 1960s film he created for rancher Frank Harrison documenting one man and his team of horses haying, feeding and moving cattle, and breaking horses over the course of one year.

When: Noon, Friday, Sept. 2

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.

Cost: Free

With only two sessions remaining, the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s annual Brown Bag Lecture Series is wrapping up for another summer, and according to museum Curator Katie Adams, who has been planning and organizing the event for the past 10 years, the final two entries should prove a fitting climax to a successful series.

On Friday, Aug. 26, local resident Shaunna Watterson will present “Red Grandpa/Grey Grandpa,” in which she will recount the history of her family — including the McPhees and the Campbells — two of the Yampa Valley’s earliest settlers.

A week later, on Sept. 2, retired photographer and videographer Modesto Compestine will narrate “Four Seasons,” a film he created for Strawberry Park rancher Frank Harrison through the course of an entire year. The 1960s footage depicts Harrison and his team of horses haying, feeding and moving cattle, birthing calves and breaking horses.

“It’s amazing,” Adams said of the film. “He (Harrison) takes his sled around to the big haystack in the winter … and voice commands the horses to get them into the right place, and then, the horses drive themselves, and he pitches the hay off and feeds the cattle.”

Adams said the film, which was shot in the 1960s, has no audio, but during the Sept. 2 Brown Bag Lecture Series presentation, Compestine will narrate the footage from his unique perspective as filmmaker.

“So that one’s kind of exciting, interesting, a little bit different than a typical lecture,” Adams said.

The series runs each year beginning the last Friday in June and continuing through the first Friday in September, and Adams said this summer’s series has attracted audience numbers at least on par with seasons past.

“We average about 35 people per tour,” she said, “though that number varies, depending on what the topic is and who’s speaking. In the past, when we’ve had people everyone knows — people like Katherine Gourley or Elaine Gay — it’s been standing room only.”

Given the series has been running every summer for nearly 20 years, it might seem as though the museum would eventually run out of topics. But so far, Adams said, that hasn’t been a problem. In fact, she added, finding topics and securing speakers has become easier through the course of a decade spent directing the series.

“It helps now that it’s been 10 years,” she said. “I’m becoming more familiar with who to talk to, and a lot of it comes from people who attend the Brown Bags, saying, ‘I know who you need to talk to,’ so I do a lot of that. I kind of joke that nobody wants to be friends with me, because it inevitably means they have to do a Brown Bag. So I definitely lean on people I know for ideas.”

Even as this year’s series draws to a close, Adams is already thinking about next summer. Though she hasn’t yet settled on a theme for the summer 2017 series, she said she is mulling preliminary ideas — including possibly instituting panel discussions with multiple speakers talking about Steamboat Springs institutions, local mainstays such as Search and Rescue, the Yampa Valley’s school districts and the Ski Patrol.

She is also considering a series about the origins and backstories of local bars.

She added, however, that next year’s slate remains “very much up in the air,” saying she would begin honing in on a topic early next spring.

In the interim, Adams said the museum is currently planning events for the fall and winter.

In October, Tread of Pioneers plans to launch a new event titled “History Happy Hour,” which will tentatively be held monthly at Butcherknife Brewery.

Adams said the new event is an attempt “to reach beyond the walls of the library and engage a younger audience.”

In addition, the museum will once again partner with the Chief Theater in December for the Winter Film Series.

To reach Jim Patterson, call 970-871-4208, email jpatterson@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JimPatterson15


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