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Black Forest Festival a step back in time

August 9, 2017 Updated: August 9, 2017 at 5:45 pm
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Participants take off during the Outhouse Race at the Black Forest Festival on Saturday, August 13, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

You'll want to get in line early for the pancake breakfast that kicks off the Black Forest Festival on Saturday. "Old-timers" start lining up about 6 a.m. for the donation-based meal, which runs from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Black Forest Community Club, said Shari Conley, festival coordinator.

Since the 1960s, the community has held Black Forest Days, a summer event that later evolved into the volunteer-run festival attracting up to 3,000 people. This year's theme is Black Forest or Bust. All proceeds go to community charities and nonprofits.

"What we really aim for is to be as homespun as possible," she said. "This is probably the one day of the year we can showcase what it is like to live in Black Forest. It shows a person could have this lifestyle."

A booth fair of artisans, craftspeople and food vendors will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. A parade with a "hometown feel" starts at 10:30 a.m. and will feature the likes of the Colorado Mounted Rangers, Boy and Girl Scouts, firefighters, Native American dancers, Miss Colorado Teen Cynthia Morin, vintage cars and more, Conley said.

After that, get ready for the outhouse race - an event that bears similarities to a certain annual coffin race. Entrants make an outhouse that's carried by a team of four, with one person inside, about a half mile.

"It's a kick," Conley said.

Ella Eckert, 5, jumps from stump to stump Saturday, August 15, 2015 in the Black Forest Log School Park during the Black Forest Festival. All the wood used in the newly built park came from trees burned in the Black Forest Fire. This year's festival included the dedications ceremony for the Black Forest Fire Memorial. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

Other attractions include gold mining, goat-milking and soap-making demos, alpaca fleece spinning, silent and live auctions, two state fair champion turkeys, a cakewalk, Pioneer Town - like something you'd see in "Little House on the Prairie" - with crafts and activities for kids making lariats and painting wooden boats to float on the horse trough. There will be a petting zoo, and Rockin' M Ranch will give pony rides for $5. Also for the kids, school will be in session in the historic log schoolhouse at 2:30 p.m. for a half hour - just as it was in the old days.

A new piece of property called the North 477 will be christened this year.

"That was a piece of property that burned in the Black Forest fire in 2013. The home was burned to ashes," Conley said. Blackened trees from the property will be sawn to spec on a portable sawmill, with proceeds benefiting improvements on the property.

Music offerings will continue through the day, with a violinist playing Celtic music and a pianist offering "Old Susannah"-type favorites at the pancake breakfast, the 495'ers Acoustic Band from 8:30 to 10 a.m.; the Forest Chorus from 10 to 10:20 a.m. and the USAFA Wild Blue Country Band from noon to 3 p.m.

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