by Marissa Lorenz
The beginning of Kremmling Days, as many things in the past, is a little difficult to pin down, seeking memories passed on by those now gone or from those so young at the time that details have blurred. Large gaps remain but the story becomes more defined as more memories, documents, and proofs are gathered.
Prior research traced the event to 1950–which was then reported by the Gazette. But one long-time rancher maintained the event was related to Railroad Days, a three-day celebration held over July 4th, 1906, when the railroad first reached Kremmling. And indeed, in further scouring area newspapers, Kremmling Days does seem to have grown out of an attempt to create a family-friendly, kid-focused Fourth of July event. But it has also shifted with the times, being connected to various dates, events and organizations over the years.
Kremmling did hold a large Independence Day celebration in July 1906. The Yampa Leader described it as “principally a jollification over the completion of the Moffat road to [Kremmling].” And in the following years of the early 20th century, the Middle Park Times tells of competition among Grand County’s towns as to who would host the area’s July 4th celebration, complete with local championship baseball game, barn dance, and fireworks display.
Discord lessened when Towns began taking turns organizing and hosting the annual event, with Kremmling hosting in 1910 and 1915. Still the celebration, regardless of where it was held, was centered around competitive sports and contests for adults. An announcement for the 1915 event, held in Kremmling on July 5, read, “A program of sports is being arranged that will include horse racing on their standard half mile track, relay racing, broncho bucking contests, foot races, sack races, baseball games, and the good old fireworks and dance are not omitted.”
The 1914 event in Granby boasted prizes for “ball games, bucking contests, relay races, auto races, cow pony races, a greased pole contest, baking contest,” and more, primarily for adults. On the William’s Fork in 1916, there were bucking contests, tug-of-war, calf roping, greased pig contests, foot races and three-legged races for the men, and a number of “ladies races.”
It is unclear exactly when or who, but by at least the late ‘40s, someone decided that a mid-summer event that was more kid-centric would be a good idea. Bill Curran began organizing (took over organization?) in 1949. And in 1974, upon his 25-year anniversary as organizer, Curran told the Middle Park Times that “Kremmling Days was still for the kids.”
Curran had joined the Kremmling Volunteer Fire Department in 1951 and may have brought the event into that organization at that time. Not yet a taxing district, the Department had been conscientiously fundraising since at least 1946 with several dances, bingo, and an annual turkey shoot and the event would have fit that goal nicely. 1951 is the first point found so far where the event is referred to as “Kremmling Days.” That year, there was a parade, dance, and rodeo events, including the naming of a Kremmling Days Queen.
Due to gaps in technology and digitization of newspapers, little else has been revealed so far of the event in the 1950s, though it seems to have been held on the Fourth of July weekend throughout most of the 1960s. In 1970, the event shifted to the last weekend in June. In 1974, the same year as Curran’s “silver” organizing anniversary, he described a parade, followed by “a variety of contests for kids in the town park, rides in the fire truck, stick horse races, sack races, mother and son three-legged races, and a rolling-pin throwing contest for the mothers.”
In 1976, when Tiny Gallagher, Chair of Kremmling’s Centennial-Bicentennial Committee, wrote to the Pilot about the event, he called it the Kremmling Volunteer Fire Department’s annual “Kid’s Fun Days.” He goes on to explain that it would also serve as the Town’s official Centennial-Bicentennial celebration, as Kremmling had been designated an official American Revolution Bicentennial Community. “It is hoped,” he added, “that it will be a homecoming for all who have at one time resided or visited in the Kremmling area.” And the Town Reunion was begun.
By 1978, Kremmling Days had returned to July 4th weekend; a decade later it was regularly scheduled on the third weekend in June. By 1989 it was being organized by the Kremmling Chamber. That year’s festivities included a Friday night concert and, on Saturday, a “street breakfast”, 5k run, ballooning, team calf roping, softball tournament, and nighttime dance.
Tony Tucker, chief of today’s Kremmling Fire Protection District, remembers the Art Club becoming involved in the ‘80s. And records show artisans being recruited and organized by the Kremmling Memorial Hospital in the early 1990s. And while many of the early memories may have been lost, many can today recall the Kremmling Days of the ‘90s and early 2000s as similar to that held in that past few years.
While rodeo events are no longer part of the town event, the parade and royalty are met with crowds every year. Every kid turns out for the Fire Department’s Kids Games, and families gather for the Firemen’s BBQ. The Mustang Mile maintains the history of foot racing for all ages. Cliff Golf, museum tours, and the pancake breakfast have become embedded in the memories and expectations of the event. And while 2020 and COVID-19 meant new modifications to the event, the town can be assured that Kremmling Days will continue to be rejuvenated for future kids, families, and residents.