Perry-Mansfield finds place in local community’s heart | SteamboatToday.com
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Perry-Mansfield finds place in local community’s heart

Karina Cardella rehearses a “New Works” dance piece by Stacey Tookey during this year’s professional and college dance camp. It was Cardella’s first intensive dance camp. She made the decision to enroll at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp after winning a partial scholarship and raising money through a Go Fund Me campaign.
John F. Russell





Karina Cardella rehearses a “New Works” dance piece by Stacey Tookey during this year’s professional and college dance camp. It was Cardella’s first intensive dance camp. She made the decision to enroll at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp after winning a partial scholarship and raising money through a Go Fund Me campaign.
John F. Russell

— For over 100 years, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp has held a

special place in hearts of the Steamboat Springs community, and it was the

community’s love for the camp that saved it in the early 1990s when the financial woes



of Stephens College, which owned the camp at the time, threatened its future.

“The crazy notion that the ladies (Portia Mansfield and Charlotte Perry) came up with in



1913 is still valid today,” said Karolynn Lestrud, a longtime Perry-Mansfield supporter.

“You can still see that magic happening out there today. The people who stepped up

and helped out understand that something extraordinary happens out there every

summer.”

In the fall of 1990, Stephens College announced it would no longer run the camp and

planned to sell the campus. Following the announcement, Steamboat community

members began forming a group, eventually known as Friends of Perry-Mansfield, to

save the campus.

Lestrud said the memories of those days are kind of a blur because there were so many

moving parts.

“It was totally a grassroots effort,” said Holly Williams, who was Friends of Perry-

Mansfield president at the time.

The effort involved hundreds of people, including Steamboat community leaders, bank

presidents and locals who had either been touched by the camp or just liked the idea of

keeping the performing arts school in Strawberry Park.

“Perry Mansfield has never missed a season in 103 years,” Lestrud said. “It has left a

mark on this community and is viewed as an incredible asset. There was no way we

could simply let it go away.”

On July 22, 1994, Amy Tumminello, who was director of development for Friends of

Perry-Mansfield, deposited a check for $201,000 at the First National Bank, which

represented the group’s final payment to Stephens College. A few days later, more than

200 people showed up on the Perry-Mansfield campus to celebrate the closing by

burning copies of the mortgage in a special ceremony.

Randy Nelson, who played a key role in helping form Friends of Perry-Mansfield and

acted as camp director following the purchase, said despite the turbulence caused by

Stephens’ exit, the situation could not have worked out much better.

“It turned out to be a good deal for everybody involved,” Nelson said. “Looking at in now,

it seems like everything worked out for the best.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966


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