The Sheridan Arts Foundation celebrates the beginning of the summer season by putting out the welcome mat for 45 inner-city youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The group, ages 12 – 18, comes to Telluride from Atlanta, Denver, Farmington N.M., Ft. Worth/Dallas, Texas, Nucla, Colo., Phoenix and Santa Fe,  for a week of empowering activities that celebrate Western arts, culture and customs. It’s time for the Sheridan Arts Foundation’s 21st annual Wild West Fest, Monday, June 4 – Saturday, June 9, which this year also includes four local teens from Telluride High School.

“The very best thing about Wild West Fest is seeing the kids lose their inhibitions, gain confidence and become more aware of their own potential throughout the week,” said Mentorship Director Jennifer Julia. “You can see them grow as individuals, it’s very exciting!”

Tuesday through Friday the young people attend the Chip Allen Mentorship Program (CAMP). At CAMP, they are grouped with professionals – Colin Sullivan of Telluride Theatre, Amanda Sturdevant, Telluride Dance Academy, Joel Kirkhoff and Chris Loccisano, Mark Galbo of Rock and Roll Academy, exercise physiologist Bridget Taddonio and instructors from Telluride Academy – in the fields of drama, dance, horsemanship, fly fishing, outdoor adventure and music to work with them in their chosen field.

CAMP program prioritizes each child’s personal and individual needs to ensure a positive learning experience to ensure that these young people return home with a greater sense of self-confidence, personal awareness and a firm grasp on a new skill.

“Year after year, we receive similar feedback from the participants: they like feeling safe here, they like how the people through town treat them kindly and with respect,” Julia said. “They begin with trepidation and then welcome the challenges we present them. They also report that the greater sense of self they gain from being a part of the program does not go away after they leave. The experience is life changing.”

When not with their mentors, participants continue to maintain a busy schedule. They will spend time at Schmid Ranch for a Western-style cookout, take workshops with renowned Texas artist Donna Howell-Sickles, participate in the fourth annual Heritage Fest and attend the special WWF benefit concert featuring Imagine, a Beatles tribute band, and more. (CAMP groups studying music, drama and dance open the benefit concert.)

The Sheridan Arts Foundation, the 501(c)(3) non-profit that owns and runs the historic Sheridan Opera House, prides itself in covering all expenses for the Boys & Girls Clubs (except travel). The organization manages the expense thanks to the generous support of child sponsors. A generous contribution of $1,000 allows one child to participate in the Wild West Fest in its entirety.

Those interested in pledging their support for the Wild West Fest can contact Ronnie Palamar at 728-6363 or mail to

The 21st annual Wild West Fest is generously sponsored by Telluride Alpine Lodging, the Telluride Daily Planet, Telluride Inside and Out, and Coca-Cola.

The schedule of events is as follows:

Monday, June 4
Youth arrive from Atlanta, Denver, Farmington, Fort Worth, Nucla and phoenix

Tuesday, June 5
5-8 p.m.: Wild West Fest Kick-Off Celebration and BBW in Town Park, open to public, $6 donation for food

Wednesday, June 6
10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Chip Allen Mentorship Programs

Thursday, June 7
10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Chip Allen Mentorship Programs
5-8 p.m.: Schmid Ranch Western Cookout for participants, supporters and sponsors
5-8 p.m.: Donna Howell-Sickles Artist Reception, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

Friday, June 8
9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.: Circle K Ranch Roundup for youth
8 p.m.: Wild West Fest Benefit concert featuring Imagine, a Beatles Tribute Band and CAMP performances, tickets $25 plus $1 ticketing fee,

Saturday, June 9
10 a.m.-12 p.m., Art Workshop with Donna Howell-Sickles at the Ah Haa School for the Arts
11 a.m.- 4 p.m.: 4th annual Heritage Fest on Colorado Ave
4 & 7 p.m.: “The Last Ride” screening, $10, a feature length film depicting the last days of Hank Williams, Sheridan Opera House


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