A summertime tradition is back, if only for one night.
The Flying W Ranch will open its gates for the first time since the ranch was destroyed in last summer's Waldo Canyon fire. On Aug. 23, the ranch returns to the good old days, with a chuckwagon supper and performance by the Flying W Wranglers, a group known for family-friendly, four-part harmonies.
The ranch, which has offered Western food and Western-style entertainment since 1953, was one of the first structures destroyed in the fire, although Marian's Cooking Library and a teepee were left intact.
"We'd been in operation for 60 years," said Aaron Winter, executive director of Flying W Ranch, "and the ownership and staff felt compelled to be able to say 61 years is how long we've been in operation, even if it's only for one night. We wanted to continue the tradition for the summer."
The four musicians will perform, and a traditional chuckwagon supper will be served, including a barbecue roast beef sandwich, baked beans, applesauce, baked potato, iced tea, lemonade, coffee and dessert. The event will take place on the dirt field where the chuckwagon used to sit. No seating will be provided, and visitors need to take chairs or blankets to sit on. Attendance is capped at 600 tickets, and 318 have been sold, Winter said.
Ranch management intended to have the chuckwagon suppers up and running by this summer, Winter said, but decided instead to focus on restoring the mountainside, erosion control and minimizing flooding.
Many are working hand in hand with ranch staff to dig 40-feet-deep holes to capture sediment running down from the burn scar on the property, plant trees and spread log erosion barriers.
They include community volunteers, the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Dave and Brandon Rosgen from Wildland Hydrology, a Fort Collins-based organization that provides training courses for those who work with rivers and watersheds.
"We wanted to make sure the surrounding communities were safe," Winter said. "We geared ourselves toward that rather than rebuilding. We've been doing it since the fire."
Proceeds from the event will go toward the purchase of safety equipment for volunteers working the land.
Winter said the ranch has tentative plans to open by Memorial Day weekend.
Flying W Ranch and Western Musical Show
When: 6 p.m. Aug. 23
Where: Flying W Ranch, 3330 Chuckwagon Road
Tickets: Online reservations only, $25, $15 ages 6-12, not recommended for ages 5 and younger due to the landscape; 598-4000, flyingw.com