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Arts & Culture

Annual Holden-Marolt Hoedown kicks off Aspen Historical Society’s summer museum season

For Aspen residents and visitors, the Holden-Marolt Hoedown at the Mining and Ranching Museum is a classic start to the summer. Hosted by the Aspen Historical Society, last Friday’s event showcased renovations to the museum and family friendly activities.

Featuring live music from Buffalo Joe’s Bluegrass Band, a petting zoo and demonstrations of mining machinery, the hoedown also offered tours of the Victorian-era Zupancis-McMurchy cabin and the museum, both of which officially open to the public June 14.

One of the popular hoedown activities was a twist on an old classic, what summer intern Catherine Rudnicki calls “chicken poop bingo.”

Rudnicki, one of the bingo callers, said the money raised from the game goes toward the society’s expansion efforts.

Jenna McMurtry
Aspen Public Radio
Emily Peterson, an intern for Smiling Goat Ranch, helps a few children unleash their creative side. They added a splash of color to Tinkerbell, one of the miniature ponies to make an appearance Friday evening.

“We're very excited because we've been raising a good amount of money … because we're hoping to open a new museum fairly soon,” she said.

The new museum will focus on the ways that skiing restored Aspen more than 40 years after it was devastated by the silver crash of 1893, Rudnicki said.

Lisa Hancock, vice president and curator of collections at the society, said the recent renovations to the Mining and Ranching Museum have enhanced the flow of the exhibit with easy-to-read signs.

She said plans are in the works to add exterior signage over the summer.

One of education and program assistant Suzie Brady’s favorite exhibits is the loud steam-engine demonstration.

“We do run [the steam engine] off compressed air — steam is very dangerous,” she said. “It’s much much safer than it was in the 1880s.”

Jenna McMurtry
Aspen Public Radio
Buffalo Joe’s Bluegrass Band performs at Friday evening’s ranch-themed party.

Alexander Hunt, a docent at the museum, said the steam engines fell silent after the mining industry largely went bust.

“The big silver crash of 1893 saw a loss of over half the population, and, of course, a lot of the machinery that had been used to process the silver just wasn't being run anymore,” Hunt said.

For Brady, the hoedown not only showcased the museum, but the event was also a great way to bring people together.

“My favorite part of this event is to see all of the families … having a good time and just having the chance to be a community — all age groups, adults, getting together,” Brady said. “And just being able to celebrate what it is to be an Aspenite, what it is to be a part of this awesome community.”

Editor’s note: This story was produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps, which is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.