Fruita Fall Fest Goes Way Back

By Abbie Brown

When one thinks of the Fall Fest today, you might imagine a gleaming Ferris wheel, rows upon rows of colorful vendors, and a plump funnel cake dusted with powdered sugar steaming in the evening light. The festival’s creation, however, was a far less glorious start- one lacking funnel cakes. It started back in 1914, when the Fall Fest was something completely different. Rather than being the fun-filled carnival with clowns riding by on their tricycles that people have grown to know and love today, it began with something called the Cowpuncher Reunion. (As some quick information for those who don’t know what a “Cowpuncher Reunion” is, it involves branding, herding cattle, and the infamous calf wrestling…a stark and rather bleak beginning to the Fall Fest of today.)fff-abbie-pic-by-alexa

This was by far one of the biggest events for all “Fruitians.” Stores would close up, visitors from all over the valley would catch the train over to our tiny little town, mothers would prepare bundles upon bundles of harvested produce and freshly made jams, and everyone would hurry to the rodeo grounds to catch the grand event. Only a little after this came the Hunter’s Roundup and the Harvest Carnival, complete with dances, barbeques, amusement park rides and a variety of vendors.

From these three gatherings, stemmed today’s Fruita Fall Fest. Though slightly different than it was over a century ago in 1914, our festival still holds that same grandeur. This year’s celebration entailed a bustling parade, the famous Friday Night Street Dance, a few bake-off competitions, and of course, the Outhouse Race. Residents of Fruita and the surrounding Grand Valley packed the streets of downtown Fruita to “ooh” and “ahh” at all the different booths and vendors and attempt the scattered carnival rides. Twinkling trinkets hung from one booth while the smell of greasy funnel cakes wafted tantalizingly through the air, sparking memories of festivities long ago.

Kim Kucera, a staff member at FMHS, has been to the Fall Fest for three years in a row now and says, “One of the things I’ve been really impressed with Fruita in general is because they do have such a strong sense of community…I’ve been trying to go that extra step and really support these small businesses, the local owners, because this is their livelihood. So I’m definitely trying to stay away from the bigger businesses, and Fruita is awesome about that.” Similarly, Rachelle Neff (a sophomore at FMHS) remarks, “It’s kind of like a reunion, honestly, you get to see your friends from school, but then you also get to chill out with your family.” It provides a small sliver of time for community members to simply relax and take in the joys of life. Kucera, Neff, and many others from the Grand Valley can all agree that though Fruita is most definitely a small town, it’s also a tightly-knit community of friends and family, and the annual Fruita Fall Fest is just another way to show that. Whether it’s racing makeshift outhouses down Main street, or parading the local high school’s marching band through the downtown, this year’s festivities were an outstanding array of color and excitement, all working to bring people together in its own small town way. All in all, it was a job well done and deserving of thanks to its organizer, the Fruita Chamber of Commerce.

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