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Celebrate Fourth of July Steamboat style

In town to visit their grandma
Joel Reichenberger

Editor's Top Picks:

Here are Steamboat Today Editor Lisa Schlichtman's top picks for Fourth of July Fun.

1) Catch a show at Strings — If you’ve never attended a performance at the Strings Music Pavilion, you’re missing out on an incredible experience in an intimate venue. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Strings is offering two shows. Charlie Chaplin’s silent film, “The Gold Rush” will be presented on the big screen, accompanied by an orchestra of musicians from the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony, who will play the score to the classic film. If country music is your passion, you won’t want to miss a performance by Brent Rowan & Friends at 8 p.m. Sunday. Rowan, who now calls Steamboat home, is a two-time Academy of Country Music Guitarist of the Year. For this weekend’s show, Rowan has invited songwriters Richard Leigh and Wynn Varble to join him on the Strings stage.

2) It’s not Fourth of July without fireworks — Steamboat Springs is known for its spectacular fireworks displays, and the Fourth of July show never disappoints. The mortars are shot from the top of Emerald Mountain and light up the night sky over the Yampa River and downtown Steamboat. The show starts at 9 p.m. I suggest you get downtown early for a prime viewing spot or maybe a drink at one of the riverside restaurants along Yampa Street. My favorite viewing spots are along the river on the Core Trail between Ninth and 13th streets, anywhere at Howelsen or at the Colorado Mountain College parking lot above town.

3) History retold — Popular storyteller Marianne Capra will share the tale of Steamboat’s first Fourth of July at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 3 on the lawn outside the beautiful Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave. The live, 45-minute performance will take listeners back to 1876 when the Crawford pioneers celebrated Steamboat’s first Independence Day. Bring your own chairs and blankets.

4) Discover North Routt — There’s a lot happening outside of Steamboat Springs for the Fourth, and my pick for a great getaway to the north happens Saturday, when the Hahn’s Peak Historical Society hosts its annual ice cream social from 1 to 3 p.m. and its arts and crafts fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the intersection of Routt County Road 129 and Main Street in historic Hahn’s Peak Village. Later that night, nearby Steamboat Lake State Park will be the site for a fireworks show that begins at 9:30 p.m.

Locals’ Fourth of July favorites:

“My favorite thing to do every Fourth of July is go tubing with family and friends. It’s usually a hot day, and hopping in the river is a great way to stay cool. Plan ahead by shuttling your car the night before or prepare to be patient navigating post-parade traffic. Better yet, let someone else do the driving by hiring a tubing outfitter or taking the free city bus (must be dry with a deflated tube).” — Nicole Miller, digital communications manager for Steamboat Resort

"I like to stroll through the umpteen-million barbecues in the Fairview neighborhood and then head up the ridge off Blackmere Drive to see the fireworks." — Eugene Buchanan, Steamboat Pilot & Today magazines editor

"Every year, we camp out at Steamboat Lake and then head out onto the lake at night in canoes and other watercraft to catch the North Routt fireworks. They put on a great show, and you can see their reflection on the water." — Paul Hobson, local builder

"We have a great backyard in Strawberry Park, so we like to barbecue there and watch the show. Then, we have a big bonfire." — Kurt Casey

“The most fun I've ever had started with the Boy Scouts pancake breakfast in Little Toots Park, marching in the Fourth of July Parade on Lincoln Avenue, then going to the ice cream social downtown, the rodeo grounds with a bunch of New Zealand actors who had never seen bull riding and finishing things up with a seat under the fireworks at Howelsen Hill. That's a full day. Bring your own maple syrup to the pancake breakfast and make a bunch of new friends.” — Stuart Handloff, The Great American Laughing Stock Company artistic director

“I walk in the parade for Friends of Wilderness, then, if I can still walk, I head for a Routt beer float at Tread of Pioneers Museum.” — Ann Ross, local author

— A spectacular fireworks show, an old-fashioned block party and a festive parade along Lincoln Avenue highlight Steamboat Springs’ Fourth of July festivities and the 113th Cowboys’ Roundup Days.

The July Fourth Parade is one of Steamboat’s longstanding traditions that gives a tip of the cowboy hat to Yampa Valley’s ranching roots.

This year’s theme, “Stars, Stripes and Spurs,” was chosen to reflect that history.



“We always try to tie the parade and the weekend’s activities into our western heritage,” said Maren McCutchan, public relations manager for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, which is sponsoring the event that begins at 10 a.m. Monday, July 4. “Cowboys’ Roundup Days has been going on for over 100 years. This year marks 113, so it’s important we continue that western flair.”

McCutchan suggests that parade-goers head downtown early to enjoy breakfast and secure a prime spot along the parade route, which extends along Lincoln Avenue from Sixth to 10th streets. This year, the parade will feature 50 entries.



“As much as possible, we encourage people to ride bikes or take the bus (to downtown),” McCutchan said.

The best parking availability will be in the 10th Street and Howelsen Hill lots.

Editor’s Top Picks:

Here are Steamboat Today Editor Lisa Schlichtman’s top picks for Fourth of July Fun.

1) Catch a show at Strings — If you’ve never attended a performance at the Strings Music Pavilion, you’re missing out on an incredible experience in an intimate venue. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Strings is offering two shows. Charlie Chaplin’s silent film, “The Gold Rush” will be presented on the big screen, accompanied by an orchestra of musicians from the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony, who will play the score to the classic film. If country music is your passion, you won’t want to miss a performance by Brent Rowan & Friends at 8 p.m. Sunday. Rowan, who now calls Steamboat home, is a two-time Academy of Country Music Guitarist of the Year. For this weekend’s show, Rowan has invited songwriters Richard Leigh and Wynn Varble to join him on the Strings stage.

2) It’s not Fourth of July without fireworks — Steamboat Springs is known for its spectacular fireworks displays, and the Fourth of July show never disappoints. The mortars are shot from the top of Emerald Mountain and light up the night sky over the Yampa River and downtown Steamboat. The show starts at 9 p.m. I suggest you get downtown early for a prime viewing spot or maybe a drink at one of the riverside restaurants along Yampa Street. My favorite viewing spots are along the river on the Core Trail between Ninth and 13th streets, anywhere at Howelsen or at the Colorado Mountain College parking lot above town.

3) History retold — Popular storyteller Marianne Capra will share the tale of Steamboat’s first Fourth of July at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 3 on the lawn outside the beautiful Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave. The live, 45-minute performance will take listeners back to 1876 when the Crawford pioneers celebrated Steamboat’s first Independence Day. Bring your own chairs and blankets.

4) Discover North Routt — There’s a lot happening outside of Steamboat Springs for the Fourth, and my pick for a great getaway to the north happens Saturday, when the Hahn’s Peak Historical Society hosts its annual ice cream social from 1 to 3 p.m. and its arts and crafts fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the intersection of Routt County Road 129 and Main Street in historic Hahn’s Peak Village. Later that night, nearby Steamboat Lake State Park will be the site for a fireworks show that begins at 9:30 p.m.

Another nod to the past

Following the parade, Tread of Pioneers Museum will host an old-fashioned Pioneer Block Party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be Routt beer floats, hot dogs, kids activities and a free concert, featuring the Steamboat Swings Big Band.

“This event provides more of that ‘Hometown, USA’ feel, and festivities can be enjoyed free of charge by residents and visitors alike,” said Candice Bannister, museum executive director. “We invite everyone to come down to Eighth and Oak streets after the parade and experience the best of small town holiday traditions, Steamboat style.”

In conjunction with the block party, the museum’s neighbor, the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs, will celebrate its annual Strawberry Festival, serving up sundaes, ice cream cones and lemonade.

In the afternoon, from noon to 4 p.m., historic Howelsen Hill will become a hub of activity for the kind of sporting fun that’s unique to Steamboat. There will be a community party at the hill with food and drinks, plus a Jumpin’ and Jammin’ Competition on the ski jumps.

The contest is the culmination of several days of practice and preliminary events involving 60 of the country’s best Nordic combined and ski jumping athletes. On Monday, they’ll be demonstrating their skill by soaring off the plastic HS75 meter jump.

Locals’ Fourth of July favorites:

“My favorite thing to do every Fourth of July is go tubing with family and friends. It’s usually a hot day, and hopping in the river is a great way to stay cool. Plan ahead by shuttling your car the night before or prepare to be patient navigating post-parade traffic. Better yet, let someone else do the driving by hiring a tubing outfitter or taking the free city bus (must be dry with a deflated tube).” — Nicole Miller, digital communications manager for Steamboat Resort

“I like to stroll through the umpteen-million barbecues in the Fairview neighborhood and then head up the ridge off Blackmere Drive to see the fireworks.” — Eugene Buchanan, Steamboat Pilot & Today magazines editor

“Every year, we camp out at Steamboat Lake and then head out onto the lake at night in canoes and other watercraft to catch the North Routt fireworks. They put on a great show, and you can see their reflection on the water.” — Paul Hobson, local builder

“We have a great backyard in Strawberry Park, so we like to barbecue there and watch the show. Then, we have a big bonfire.” — Kurt Casey

“The most fun I’ve ever had started with the Boy Scouts pancake breakfast in Little Toots Park, marching in the Fourth of July Parade on Lincoln Avenue, then going to the ice cream social downtown, the rodeo grounds with a bunch of New Zealand actors who had never seen bull riding and finishing things up with a seat under the fireworks at Howelsen Hill. That’s a full day. Bring your own maple syrup to the pancake breakfast and make a bunch of new friends.” — Stuart Handloff, The Great American Laughing Stock Company artistic director

“I walk in the parade for Friends of Wilderness, then, if I can still walk, I head for a Routt beer float at Tread of Pioneers Museum.” — Ann Ross, local author

Night-time fun

Rodeo action begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Brent Romick Arena, followed by the fireworks show at 9 p.m.

Fireworks are shot off from the top of Emerald Mountain with prime viewing from anywhere along the downtown Core Trail, which runs along Yampa Street; the rodeo grounds; Howelsen Hill; and Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus.

Tim Borden, Steamboat’s famous fireworks aficionado, provides the firepower for the show, which is scripted by his son, Scott Borden. And as with any Borden-directed display, expect big booms and a show you won’t find anywhere on the Front Range.

“Our show is unique,” Tim Borden said. “Because of our distances, we’re able to shoot off more fireworks than they can in other settings. This year, we’ve added a lot more fireworks, and it’s going to be quite spectacular.”

Among the fireworks that will be launched Monday night are 45 8-inch fireworks and 20 or 30 10-inch and 12-inch fireworks. To put that into context, Borden said 90 percent of fireworks shows are limited to 6-inch fireworks or smaller. So, it’s going to be big.

And there’s more

In addition to activities slated for the Monday holiday, countless other special events and entertainment offerings are planned on Saturday and Sunday to keep visitors and locals busy for the entire three-day weekend.

“It’s just a fun-filled weekend,” McCutchan said.

Steamboat’s second free concert of the summer will be held Saturday at Howelsen Hill. Headliner Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe will take the stage about 7 p.m., and his jazz, funk and soul sound is sure to attract a large crowd, so people are encouraged to arrive early for prime seating spots.

Steamboat’s famous Pro Rodeo Series, which is held every Saturday and Sunday during the summer, expands to four nights of action over the Fourth.

A WSRRA Ranch Rodeo is planned for Sunday and will pay tribute to Steamboat’s western heritage with events such as team penning, wild cow milking and branding.

All four nights at the rodeo also feature live music from 6 to 7:15 p.m. On Friday, July 1, Steamboat Springs’ Jon Gibbs and Randy Kelley will be featured, and on Saturday, July 2, Kyle Martin, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will take the rodeo stage. The Walker Williams Band will entertain the crowd July 4.

Steamboat’s July Fourth weekend fun is not exclusive to downtown. Steamboat Ski Resort will host Art on the Mountain from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

For the 15th year, the resort will host local and visiting artists who will exhibit and sell their work at an art show in Gondola Square.

A full list of Fourth of July holiday weekend activities can be found here.

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman


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