News Column

West Fest off to rousing start

May 17, 2014

By Ryan Severance, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

May 17--A little bit of wind and rain couldn't dampen the spirit at the Wild Wild West Festival on its opening day Friday.

Despite the less than ideal weather conditions, thousands made their way to the festival in Downtown Pueblo throughout the day to eat, drink, listen to live music and experience all the annual westernthemed party has to offer.

Rod Slyhoff, president of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, said the festival drew about 25,000 to 30,000 people last year but expects that number to rise to about 40,000 with bull riding coming back after a year hiatus.

"We're really excited to have them back," Slyhoff said. "And right now even, there's a bull on the Union Avenue bridge brought down from the Fairgrounds to look at. He's in a cage and you can walk right up and get real close and learn more about the bulls from their people handling him."

Live entertainment is another big component of the Wild Wild West Festival.

This year there are three stages featuring performance acts.

The music got underway at 5 p.m. on Friday and will begin at 1 p.m. today.

"There's lots of talent and good music here," Slyhoff said.

For the fourth year in a row the festival also features rides provided by Wright's Amusements.

"The first couple of years there weren't as many rides but it's gotten bigger and bigger," Slyhoff said.

Slyhoff said he thinks the Wild Wild West Festival is special to Puebloans for a couple of different reasons.

"I think the bulls are a big part of it," he said. "I also think that it's kind of the kickoff to summer . . . This is the first big event of the summer and many follow it."

There are close to 100 vendors at the festival this year. Slyhoff said that's a bit down from previous years.

"I attribute it to the fact we didn't have the bulls last year and atten-

dance was a little down, so some didn't come back," he said. "With a good year this year hopefully more will come next year."

Slyhoff mentioned a few new and exciting things at the festival this year for those going today to keep in mind.

There will be Native American dancers, a magician doing a magic show, two sanctioned chile cookoffs featuring red and green chile as well as salsa, and a group of actors and actresses will be going around in western costumes singing and doing impromptu skits.

"We're excited for this year's festival," Slyhoff said. "We think people will have a lot of fun."


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Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)

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