Sheridan Arts Foundation: 28th Annual Wild West Fest, Special Guest Neyla Pekarek (6/6)

Sheridan Arts Foundation: 28th Annual Wild West Fest, Special Guest Neyla Pekarek (6/6)

The Sheridan Arts Foundation celebrates its 28th annual Wild West Fest June 3-8, 2019. The event marks a week of empowering activities for at-risk youth from Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. As part of the program, Neyla Pekarek performs with her band on June 6, 8 p.m. on the  stage of Telluride’s historic Sheridan Opera House. Tickets are $25 general admission seated on the main floor: $35 reserved seats in the balcony. For tickets, go to or call 970.728.6363, ext 5.

The SAF prides itself in covering all expenses for the Boys & Girls Clubs, and the organization could not do that without the generous support of child sponsors and product sponsors. A contribution of $1,000 allows one child to participate in the Wild West Fest in its entirety.

Those interested in supporting the Wild West Fest can contact Ronnie Palamar at 970.728.6363 ext. 1 or

Nearly 30 years ago, when the Sheridan Arts Foundation (SAF) was created as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit to preserve and protect Telluride’s historic Sheridan Opera House, the organization began bringing underserved youth from around the country to town for the Wild West Fest. The goal: broaden the young people’s horizons.

Starting Monday, June 3, 32 underserved youth, ages 12-18, from Denver, CO, Wichita Falls, TX and Nucla/Naturita, CO come to Telluride for a week of inspiring activities that celebrate Western arts, culture, and customs. The Sheridan Arts Foundation also welcomes two kids from the Telluride/Norwood area for the 28th annual Wild West Fest.

“Seeing the joy and excitement on these kids’ faces never gets old even after the 24 years I’ve been involved with the program” said Ronnie Palamar, the SAF’s executive director.

Tuesday through Thursday, the young people take part in the Chip Allen Mentorship Program (CAMP), the signature component of the Wild West Fest.

In CAMP, the kids are paired with experts in the fields of musical theater and visual arts, fly fishing, outdoor adventure, music and, new this year, birding. That mentorship has everyone involved heading up to the beautiful Hastings Mesa to learn about kestrels, bluebirds and other indigenous species, while also working in wood to create their own unique birdhouses.

This year’s mentors include Leah Nikula (musical theater); Ah Haa School for the Arts instructor Michelle Montague (visual arts); Joel Kirkoff, Chris Loccisano and Paul Horrigan (fly fishing); Brett Neuman of Telluride’s Rock and Roll Academy (music); and joining the Wild West Fest family for the first time, Glen Pihl, who developed the “Birds and Their Habitats” mentorship around his passion for birdwatching and building ornate wood birdhouses using found objects.

Because CAMP program prioritizes each child’s personal and individual needs to ensure a positive learning experience under the guidance od  their mentors, year after year participants have returned home with a greater sense of self-confidence, personal awareness, and a firm grasp on some new skills.

“What we’re asking of all the kids –  try new things by taking positive risks, put yourself out there, and let go and have fun – are all good reminders for everyone, young or not, to do the same,”  said Wild West Fest CAMP director Maggie Stevens.

The CAMP groups studying music and musical theater will strut their newly learned stuff at “Showcase & Shindig” the evening of Thursday, June 6, 7 p.m. on the Sheridan Opera House stage.”Showcase & Shindig” also features a performance by Yellow Bird Indian Dancers of Mesa, AZ. Neyla Pekarek follows with her band in a show featuring tracks from her latest release, Rattlesnake.

Neyla Pekarek began playing cello at age nine in her hometown of Denver, CO. She went on to study musical theatre, earning a degree in Music Education at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Back home while searching for a teaching position, Neyla answered a Craigslist ad from a local folk band which needed a cello player. That band was The Lumineers. Neyla soon became a core member of the group, playing on their Grammy- nominated self-titled debut and follow-up album, and performing on every continent (except Antarctica!).

Released in January 2019, Rattlesnake is inspired by the life of a Colorado pioneer woman, “Rattlesnake Kate,” who became infamous in the 1920’s for her death-defying encounter with a rattlesnake migration. The collection of songs, produced in the studio with Matt Ward (M. Ward, She & Him, Monsters of Folk), was written as a  folk opera recounting stories from “Rattlesnake Kate’s” life, all extracted from a 40-year love letter correspondence she kept up with Colonel Charles D. Randolph, aka “Buckskin Bill”–  although the two never once met.

“We are so excited Neyla agreed to come perform at the Wild West Fest. Rattlesnake is a perfect tie-in with our Western theme and Neyla’s passion and talent for music is a great trait to share with the kids,” states Stevens.


Note: Events in bold are open to the general public.


Youth arrive from Wichita Falls, TX, Denver, CO & Nucla/Naturita, CO


9 A.M. Orientation at the Sheridan Opera House
10 A.M. – 3 P.M. WWF CAMP
5-7 P.M. Wild West Fest Kick-Off Celebration and BBQ in Town Park. Join everyone under the white tent for food, games and prizes! $6 suggested donation for BBQ.


9 A.M.-3 P.M. WWF CAMP
5:30- 8 P.M. Schmid Ranch Western BBQ for participants, supporters and sponsors (Catered by Oak)


9 A.M.-3 P.M. WWF CAMP
5 P.M. Dinner at Rustico Ristorante
7-8 P.M. WWF “Showcase and Shindig” featuring performances by the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers and WWF mentorship groups. FREE and open to the public at the Sheridan Opera House.
8-10 P.M. Neyla Pekarek and band play the Sheridan Opera House. $25/$35 tickets


9 A.M.-3 P.M. Circle K Ranch for WWF Youth; featuring hikes, games and horseback rides.
5:30-8 P.M. Pool Party at Telluride Park Pool with pizzas donated by Brown Dog Pizza

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