Holiday show promotes heritage tourism in Grand County

Kathy Naples and her daughter Heidi Ziegler will be mother-daughter characters in the Grand County Characters Christmas show from 4-6 p.m. on Dec. 16 at Cozens Ranch Museum in Fraser.

Naples will portray Maggie Crawford, who was the first woman to spend an entire winter in Grand County in 1874. Ziegler will portray Lulie Crawford. They will reminiscence about living for a year in a sod cabin that was given to them by William Byers in Hot Sulphur Springs.

The narration will be taken from a chapter in the book, “Maggie By My Side,” about the family’s first winter in Grand County. The Crawfords moved to Grand County in 1874 after James Crawford had insect problem on his farm in Missouri and wanted to find a base for his cattle ranch. After a winter in Grand County and a trip back to Missouri, James established a mining claim in Routt County. The family lived the rest of their lives in Steamboat Springs.

On Dec. 17 Grand County Characters will also sponsor the event, Christmas with Claddagh, an annual Irish Christmas celebration with Irish food and music at the Historic Fraser Church beginning at 6 p.m. Mary Cozens will greet guests at the door.

Members of the Cozens family were among the first settlers in Grand County. The Grand County Characters provide programs for area organizations that want to learn about historical Grand County and Colorado.

The Characters is just one aspect of Grand County history that will be featured in the six week Winter Carnival celebration. On Dec. 30, Al White will deliver a keynote speech in Hot Sulphur Springs to formally launch the Winter Carnival. White will talk about the importance of Grand County history and the rich heritage the railroads brought to the county.

“The railroads were responsible for the establishment of tourism,” he said. “They brought pioneer ski jumpers to Hot Sulphur Springs and downhill skiers in the Arlberg Club to the base at what was then West Portal, now Winter Park Resort. It was all because of the train.”

He will talk about the importance of remembering our history so that we don’t lose it. White has a long history with Grand County. He owned the first ski shop at base of Mary Jane for 20 years, and he owned the Viking Ski Shop in downtown Winter Park. In 2008 he became a state senator and in January was appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper as director of the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO).

CTO is a state agency within the governor’s office that advertises recreational opportunities in Colorado, nationally and internationally. The organization is funded by gaming revenue.

“Heritage tourism is getting to be more important to the baby boomers as they age and become more interested in visiting museum and music venues,” White said. “Heritage tourism is growing in importance in the travel and recreation industry.”

Dave Lively, a Heritage Tourism advocate helped establish the Heritage Coalition in Grand County to bring together all seven historic entities. The group is still forming but using collaborative efforts to determine what will work best in the county.

“We hope to establish a historic driving tour of Grand County and we are working on erecting new interpretive signs throughout the county,” Lively said.

One example of the organization’s work in progress: mapping the dividing line of the Louisiana Purchase.

“There is a line between Parshall and Kremmling where the Louisiana Purchase ended,” he said. “We want to put an interpretive sign at the line.”

Lively wants to create more interpretive signage throughout the county. He has high hopes for the Winter Carnival to showcase Grand County history to visitors.

“Visitors will get to see a part of the county that they may have never seen before and entice them to come back. Heritage Tourism is a primarily economic driver in Grand County,” he said.

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