Tombstone Tales tour returns this Sunday |

Tombstone Tales tour returns this Sunday

Gary Calder regales attendees at last year's Tombstone Tales at the Grand Lake Cemetery. The Grand Arts Council will host the annual event again on Sunday.
Lance Maggart /

The Grand Arts Council is about to dig into the history and characters of Grand Lake with its latest rendition of Tombstone Tales.

The annual event is a form of interpretive history centered on the Grand Lake Cemetery and some of the people buried there. Every year Tombstone Tales features a different theme, and this year’s will be local business owners.

Through Tombstone Tales, a series of regional residents and local history aficionados offer first-person narratives of the lives that helped shape the area.

Portraying historic characters, the speakers often dress in attire appropriate for the time period, and most talks take place a short distance from the actual gravesites of the individuals portrayed.

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. Sunday with dozens of locals, second homeowners and holiday visitors meeting at the Gateway Inn in Grand Lake to take a shuttle to cemetery. Local Jim Cervenka will lead the tours as the gravedigger.

During the tour, Cervenka will outline the history of Grand Lake Cemetery and provide details about other regional cemeteries that once held local residents before the lands underneath Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Lake Granby were flooded. He will also talk about the unique legal space Grand Lake’s cemetery occupies, as the land is technically within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park.

In addition to Cervenka, this year’s tour will feature five different speakers outlining the histories of James Cairns and his store, Barbara Tazer and her cabins, Judy Loren’s multiple businesses, Bob and Joann Wall’s Chuckhole Cafe, and Leslie and Goldie Ish’s business, the Pine Cone.

For Marilyn and Dave Binkley, last year’s event was their fifth time experiencing the living history at Tombstone Tales.

“I am always amazed at how some of the people who portray their characters do an amazing job of taking that character on,” she said after last year’s tour. “It makes living here more real, knowing how we got to where we are today.”

Tombstone Tales will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are for sale for tours that will start every 20 minutes. People should meet at the Gateway Inn to get a ride to the cemetery because there will be no parking there during the tour. Buy tickets at, the RE/MAX office in Grand Lake or by coming by the Gateway after 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

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