He’s coming back!
The infamous Jack Slade, first superintendent of the Virginia Dale Overland Stage Station in 1862, ended up dangling from a rope in Virginia City, Mont. But never mind.
Along with reincarnations of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, Slade (played by Gordon Chavis) will show up to admit to some of his sins and entertain folks who come from far and wide to the 20th Annual Virginia Dale Community Club Open House and Western Festival on June 12 and 13.
Slade operated a tight ship when he was sober, but ran seriously amuck when under the influence of alcohol. As a result, he lost his position after only a year and headed for Montana, where his violent behavior led to an untimely end.
This year, the open house is combined with Western Heritage and Culture Day and will incorporate a theme of early transportation. The popular local band, Barely Gettin’ By, will kick off the weekend with a western dance from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday at the stage station. There will be an old-fashioned pie auction at intermission. Tickets are $10 per person, and kids under 12 are free.
Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, a craft show will exhibit local talents. There will also be a general store, silent auction, pioneer hands-on exhibits and bake sale along with talks by Slade and his cohorts.
Raffle tickets for a handmade quilt will be on sale and are also available by calling 970-495-1828.
Other exhibitors include the Livermore 4-H, Ray Stokes and his cowboy tepees and chuckwagon, a real buckboard, a Mormon pushcart donated by Anna Marie Hales and Rick Brown of Cheyenne, and robberies by the Robbers Roost Rookies.
Hands-on exhibits will allow young and old to try their hand at what it was like to be a western pioneer. Participants will be able to chink logs, make butter and soap, learn to quilt, spin and weave, and enjoy a pictorial history of the stage station.
There will be games for all ages, animals to observe and burro wagon rides. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cash and checks but no credit cards, please.
The Saturday speakers’ schedule is as follows:
9:30 a.m., Rocky Mountain High School Lobomess Civil War Bivouac Group, opening ceremony
10 a.m, Wayne Sundberg (Mr. History, Fort Collins), History of the stage station
11 a.m., Jack Slade
1:30 p.m., Closing ceremony, Lobomess
Proceeds from the open house and festival will go to support the Virginia Dale Community Club and its ongoing effort to restore the historic Virginia Dale Overland Stage Station, now 153 years old. As the only remaining stage station still standing in its original location, is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2013, the building was stabilized and temporarily braced for future structural work. The rafters have been reinforced and the electrical system has been brought up to code.
Historically-correct windows have been installed thanks to a grant from the National Questers. Half the porch is built. The goal is to restore the station to its 1862 condition. With the assistance of volunteer labor, about $50,000 is still needed to complete the restoration.
Virginia Dale was an overnight station for the Overland Stage and has been in continual use by Virginia Dale ranching residents, their families and friends as their community center. The Virginia Dale Community Club owns the station and nearby Hurzeler house. Each year, the club’s open house celebrates the stage station’s historical significance and the rural way of life it represents. The goal is also to raise funds to restore and preserve this treasure for many generations to come.
There is no admission charge for the open house and festival, but donations of canned goods and work gloves for Harvest Farm in Wellington are welcomed and appreciated.
The stage station is four miles south of the Wyoming border, just off U.S. Highway 287. Turn onto County Road 43F at the memorial plaque, then left at the “Y” in the road and travel for one mile. Limited handicapped parking is available.
For further information, go to virginiadalecommunityclub.org or call Sylvia Garofalo at 970-495-1828.