Telluride's Sheridan Arts Foundation: 19th annual Wild West Fest, all week

Telluride's Sheridan Arts Foundation: 19th annual Wild West Fest, all week

[click “Play” to hear George Patterson talk about differences Wild West Fest has made]

WWF09 029 Last Monday, Mountainfilm in Telluride ended with the kind of feel-good announcement that has become par for the course for the world-changing event: Dr. Rick Hodes had contacted a colleague, a back surgeon, and Prudence, a young woman from Mali, who had beguiled the crowd with her angelic voice and smile, suddenly has a shot to emerge from the wheelchair that has confined her twisted torso since childhood. The crowd yelped and cried for joy: it was Christmas in May.

Now it’s Christmas in June for about 50 young people from Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, thanks to the Sheridan Arts Foundation’s 19th annual Wild West Fest and enrichment education at C.A.M.P. (Chip Allen Mentorship Program), a weeklong celebration of Western arts, cultural and custom. The Wild West Fest, like so much of Mountainfilm, One to One, and other local non-profits helps change the world one young person at a time.

The kids who come to town, ages 10 – 16, are selected for their positive attitude, good behavior ,and responsibility to family, school, and community. The WIld West Fest C.A.M.P. then prioritizes each of the kids’ personal and individual needs to ensure a positive learning experience. The idea is to send everyone home with a greater sense of self-confidence, personal awareness, and a firm grasp on a  new skill. This year’s participants, groups from Atlanta, Denver, Farmington, Fort Worth and Colorado Springs, get to work with mentors in dance, drama, fly-fishing, golf, horsemanship and ranching, and trick roping.

In addition to C.A.M.P., the Wild West Fest also schedules a number of cultural activities, including live performances in music, theater, ranch tours, horseback rides, cookouts, hikes, and art classes. A special guest of the 2010 event is Shelton Johnson, a nationally recognized Park Ranger and author, focused on strengthening and shortening the bridge between inner city youth and the outdoors. In years past, celebrities such as Mel Gibson, Darryl Hannah, Tanya Tucker, Rodney Crowell and Larry Mahan have donated their time and talent to the cause.

Shelton grew up in Detroit, and now works in Yosemite National Park, dedicating his time to educating visitors about the “Buffalo Soldier” history and involvement in the parks system, as well as the importance of keeping the parks open and accessible to all. Shelton is author of the novel Gloryland, and will sign copies of the book at Between the Covers Bookstore on Wednesday, June 9, 3-5p.m. He also speaks at Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House that same evening, 7p.m., about his involvement in the National Parks system. The talk is accompanied by a screening of 45-minute Ken Burns film, “This Is America,” in which Shelton is featured.

The last weekend of the Wild West Fest 2010, June 12 – June 13, the Sheridan Arts Foundation partners with the Telluride Tourism Board and the Telluride Historical Museum for the 2nd Annual Heritage Fest. Colorado Avenue is closed for this special occasion featuring stagecoach rides, an art workshop, gold panning exhibition, Butch Cassidy reenactment, single jack mining demonstration, tepee building exhibition, old fashioned photo booth, quiz games, Elks Park entertainment and more.

George Patterson, an arts educator, has become part of the SAF WWF’s extended family. He has worked as a Boys & Girls Club director/arts specialist in Denver for close to 30 years and is a veteran of 15 WWFs.

Click the “play” button and listen to George’s podcast for proof positive the Wild West Fest is a game changer.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.