Colorado mountain towns have some crazy ways of combating the winter blues. Steamboat Springs celebrates with their annual Winter Carnival Feb. 6-10. It is the 100th year the event has been held in Steamboat.
One of the highlights are the street events on Saturday and Sunday morning, down Lincoln Avenue, through the heart of downtown. Trucks bring in loads of snow and fill the street from sidewalk to sidewalk. Local ranchers haul in their horses to race them down the middle of the road, while pulling a skier behind them. Race around cones for a slalom, try ski jousting, or hit the donkey jump and catch big air.
Cathy Wiedemer is the event manager with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. She says, “There is truly something for everyone. It is 100 years of celebrating winter sports, the community, and the western heritage. It is an incredible milestone, to think that Carl Howelsen and all those folks laid the groundwork 100 years ago for all of our young athletes today.”
Carl Howelsen was the namesake of the famed Howelsen Hill in the center of Steamboat. It’s also the site of the Saturday night celebration with the Torchlight Parade and the famous Lighted Man, who wears a suit of solid Christmas lights and skis down the hill.
Saturday night will be the biggest fireworks display Steamboat has ever seen. Tom Kern is the CEO of the Steamboat Chamber. He says, “It will be exponentially larger because they’ll take all of the fireworks from the July 4 show, which had to be cancelled because of fire danger.” Kern adds that a 30-inch in diameter firework will be the grand finale. “It’s one of the largest fireworks ever shot off.”
The celebration also features a number of Olympians, something for which Steamboat is very proud. More Winter Olympic athletes have come from Steamboat than any town in America.
Winter Carnival queens will be in attendance, past and present. One past queen from 1950 is traveling up from Arizona.
Sunday morning is the Diamond Hitch Parade through the middle of town, too. “Winter Carnival isn’t ordinary. Everyone has seen a parade with horses, but probably not a parade with diamond hitches and horses pulling kids on skis down Lincoln Avenue at ridiculously high speeds. The 100th celebration will be extra special as we honor past Winter Carnival Queens, Olympians, and add several new events to the lineup including a community bonfire, snowmobile show, and VIP parties,” said Michelle Kreissig, the Public Relations Manager for the Chamber.
Another parade highlight is the famous marching band from Steamboat Springs High School. They parade down the street while on cross country skis, and hopefully never miss a beat.
Most events are free and fun for the whole family. However, everyone needs to purchase a Winter Carnival button, as is the tradition that has been going on for a century. Buttons will be sold all over town and throughout the festivities. Each button costs $10 and goes to support the local Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.