Where else but an old mining town can you watch a full day of men and women competing in team shoveling and jackleg drilling?
The historic mining competitions are a highlight of Victor Gold Rush Days, a free three-day festival that celebrates the tiny town of Victor. It begins Friday and runs through Sunday. The labor-intensive contests run throughout Saturday.
"It's definitely our signature event and my favorite time of year in Victor," said city Street Manager Becky Frankat said of Gold Rush Days. "It's a reason to come up, but definitely not the reason people will come back."
Several thousand people from around the state pop in over the course of the weekend. Some come for the vintage baseball tournament and tractor pull, others for the Elks Lodge Gold Rush Dance and Sunday parade. There also are mining, agricultural and rock-smithing demonstrations, a beer and bloody mary garden, Cripple Creek and Victor gold mine tours, old-fashioned kids games, a pancake breakfast, a historic house and building tour and a street dance.
Live music will play a large role since a new stage was built downtown. Eight bands from around the state will perform throughout the weekend, in addition to the bands playing at bars and other venues around town.
"Victor has this quality to it," said native Frankat. "The sense of authenticity here is hard to find."
About 400 folks live in the quiet mountain village year-round, and 800 flock home during the summer.
The festival was called World Celebration when it started in 1895 to fete the town's incorporation in 1894 and Victor Adams, one of the town's original settlers and its namesake. After mining changed the community, the party became the Annual Miners Reunion until 1899, when a fire destroyed most of downtown. After a few more starts and stops, including World War I, the event fired up again and became known as Gold Rush Days after World War II.
"Victor's got that small-town atmosphere of knowing your neighbors, and it's gentle in ways you wouldn't expect, but hardy," Frankat said. "Because of the altitude, it takes a hardier person to make a full-time person here. Having all these outdoor recreational activities in our backyard makes this unbeatable."