Celebrating Abundance in Nucla CO

By Deb Barr
Photos, Courtesy Nucla-Naturita Chamber of Commerce

[October 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

3rd Annual Cowboy Gathering

Celebrating the West End’s ranching traditions and heritage, the Third Annual Cowboy Gathering is scheduled for Wednesday, October 30th, from 6:00 P.M. to 9 P.M. in Nucla at the Community Center located at 1045 Main. The gathering is a fun, down-home event, sponsored by the Nucla-Naturita Chamber of Commerce, featuring authentic cowboy and cowgirl poets and musicians, and a tasty dinner provided by members of the Spruce and Columbine Garden Club.

This year’s featured performers all live the life that is the subject of their art.

Jean and Gary Prescott.

Jean and Gary Prescott.

Jean and Gary Prescott are ranching musicians from Texas. Gary’s song, “Fair Blows the Wind,” was named Song of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists, and Jean’s music has been referred to as “the spiritual essence of the West.”

Cowboy poet, Terry Nash.

Cowboy poet, Terry Nash.

Poet Terry Nash is a cattleman from Grand Junction who has performed at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the largest in the nation. He received the 2018 International Western Music Association award for “Male Poet of the Year,” and his CD, A Good Ride, won the 2018 Cowboy Poetry CD of the Year at the IWMA annual convention.

Floyd and Valerie Beard are ranchers from southeastern Colorado near Kim, who run cattle “and keep a few border collies around to stay humble.” Floyd is an award-winning poet who also recites classic cowboy poetry honoring cowboy poets of the past.

Tickets for the Cowboy Gathering are $10 per person, if purchased in advance and available at the Visitors Center, 230 West Main Street in Naturita. Tickets will also be available at the door for $12 per person. Dinner is included in the ticket price. For more information, call 970-865-2350.

4th Annual Heritage Festival

Nucla Harvest Festival.  ©Jim Womeldorf

Nucla Harvest Festival. ©Jim Womeldorf

Harvest is a special time in rural communities founded on agricultural pursuits, and in Montrose County’s West End, those communities take pleasure in the ripe abundance of the season. The 4th Annual Heritage Festival is scheduled for October 12th in Nucla Town Park from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. Hosted by the Apple Core Project, the Rimrocker Historical Society, Alpine Bank, and San Miguel Power Association, this popular one-day event celebrates the region’s rich agricultural heritage with an apple pie contest, apple variety demonstration, heirloom vegetable display by the CSU Extension Office, food demos, horseshoes, dancing, face painting and games for kids, with a variety of vendors, and topped off with music by the four-piece Six Dollar String Band. Fresh apples will be pressed on the spot, and tasty hard cider will also be available. The festival is a community event and free to the public.

West-end Apple Core Project

The Apple Core Project of Western Colorado (ACPWC) is a community organization founded by Jen Nelson and Melanie Eggers that promotes fruit tree preservation through mapping and identifying fruit tree varieties on the Western Slope, and propagating local and rare fruit genetics by grafting and planting new trees.

The ACPWC seeks to document the stories of the hardworking, industrious folks who planted and cared for these seminal orchards, and to foster a revival of the West End’s fruit growing economy. More information about the project can be found online at applecoreproject.org.

The history of the ACPWC begins with H. Walker, who came to Nucla with his family in 1898, to join the newly formed Colorado Cooperative Company. He planted his first orchard at the current Nucla town site in 1904, the year the community-constructed ditch system was completed, and waters from the San Miguel River made it to Tabeguache Park.

By 1922, a survey noted 61,313 apple trees and 5,500 other fruit trees in Montrose County. Some of those heirloom fruit trees still exist today, and the Apple Core Project seeks to preserve these heirloom varieties through grafting.