by Sheridan Block
As temperatures warm up and the snow melts, mud season returns to foil any attempts at spring cleaning. But rather than throwing down mops in frustrated defeat, Ouray County will embrace the muck once again at Mud Fest 2013.
The Ouray County Chamber Resort Association and Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce will host the second annual event at the Ouray County Fairgrounds on April 26-28.
“(The purpose is) bringing our communities together and our regional visitors together to celebrate mud and play, because we have plenty of it,” said OCRA president Tamara Gulde.
Last year was the first time the Ouray and Ridgway chambers did an event like this together, and the outcome exceeded expectations, attracting nearly 1400 attendees both locally and regionally. The event was so successful that the committee was able to carry over proceeds from last year to help make this year “bigger and better.”
The committee is promoting Mud Fest 2013 as a “stay-longer” event, spanning an entire weekend of activities as opposed to the single-day event last year. Visitors from out of town will be encouraged to enjoy Ouray County all weekend, whether they stay in Ouray or Ridgway. There will be plenty of local events outside of Mud Fest that visitors can enjoy during the weekend. The hope is that the longer people stay for the event, the more revenue the community will generate from visitors.
“We’re hoping that people benefit…that the stores and the restaurants benefit in both communities throughout the weekend,” said OCRA Operations Director Kat Papenbrock.
To make sure guests are entertained throughout the weekend, the committee has added many “brand spankin’ new” attractions to Mud Fest.
Taking place of last year’s closing Mud Ball, the festival will kick off on Friday night with Mud Jam at the Ouray Community Center. Cedaredge’s The David Starr Band will perform live music and the 49th Jeep raffle model will be unveiled. Proceeds from beer and wine sales will go toward the Mountain Air Music Series. Mud Jam will end at 8 p.m., giving guests time to shop and dine on Main Street.
Saturday’s events and activities will begin at 9 a.m. and will include favorites from last year’s festivities, such as mud pit tug-of-war and mud volleyball. 4x4 obstacle courses and mud runs will also take place all day as well as two half-hour motorcycle exhibitions by Warrior Promotions.
Sunday will see many new additions to the event, beginning with the Mud Fest 5k, which will not only benefit the Ouray County Fairgrounds for restoration and repairs but will also start off the Ouray County Race Series. The route is still to be determined.
A buggy exhibition will also be featured this year after an impromptu buggy run at last year’s event. The crowd enjoyed it so much that the committee decided to make it a major attraction this year. And to end the day on a monstrous, muddy note, Mud Fest will host a 4x4 sled pull competition, sponsored by Alpine Offroad and Performance.
Weather has been unpredictable this year, but the committee is hoping for plenty of rain in the weeks before and clear skies on the weekend of the event.
Even for those who may not be fans of the gooey mess, Mud Fest is another way for members of the community to welcome the spring season with neighbors and friends.
Mud Jam tickets will be $5 for adults and free for children. Costs for each day of the weekend are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. Wristbands will be handed out with a different color each day. Tickets are expected to be on sale by next week and can be purchased at the Ouray Visitors Center and participating locations.
“It’s just a fun event. To see the local people that you’re with in mud season…they have big smiles and are having a ball and just really enjoying the day because it’s different,” said Gulde.