550 vehicles, 1250 people – the largest ever – participated in this year’s 50th Anniversary All-4-Fun in Empire, CO. As always, the event was greatly welcomed by the town of Empire and by the more than 70 participating vendors. There were reminders of the 50th anniversary throughout the week with a cake and cupcake event and recognition of the long-time participants.
The club participants were: Matt and Carol Ann Schwall (2nd time for Matt and 1st time for Carol Ann), Greg Beery (he’s been so many times, he can’t remember the specific count), Greg’s friend Ken and his son Jessie from British Columbia (Ken’s 13th time), John and Kathy Howell (15th time), and Kerry Beach and his daughter who were able to come for two days.
Each day there were 18 trails available with a max of 20 vehicles on each trail. The two more difficult trails, Spring Creek and Sidewinder, allowed only 10 vehicles, but Spring Creek ran twice each day. The talk amongst the crowd was that Spring Creek was a bit more difficult than the past and there was one reported rollover during the week. Trail sign up was at 6 PM each evening. The line was long, but it moved quickly and efficiently. MHJC boasted that the trails covered over 2,350 square miles of some of the best 4-wheeling in Colorado.
Once the 6 PM throng of sign ups occurred, we selected a trail that had enough open slots for all of us. Those trails included: Kingston Peak and Yankee Hill, Cascade Creek, top of Saxton Mountain and Lamartine Mine, Pickle Gulch and Miners Gulch, and Geneva Creek. All were moderate or easy but offered spectacular scenery. Also, each trail has a “special” remembrance. In the case of Kingston Peak, there was a lot of rain. So much so, that we did not stop and add a rock to the rock house on top (I hear it’s bad luck to not add a rock).
The top of Saxton Mountain offers great views of Georgetown and I-70. Near the end of the run, the rest of the group went on, but we stopped and explored Lamartine Mine and offered assistance to a vehicle who had been in the group, but had somehow been left behind with mechanical problems. We were anxious to do Miners Gulch, and Greg was pleased that we did the rocky part going uphill which is what he wanted.
Geneva Creek, one of my personal favorites, seemed to not interest many of the participants so most had already left the group by the time we explored the old mine area. Our vehicles all performed well with no mishaps and the only other mishaps we heard about, besides the rollover on Spring Creek, were two almost-rollovers on Democrat Mountain and Red Elephant.
Being All-4-Fun, you know it’s going to rain. Besides the rain on Kingston Peak, it poured two nights under the tent. But, this year there was a new – and much bigger – tent. It measured 100’ x 100’ so there was room for all to get in out of the weather. Even the food lines wound around under the tent and folks were able to stay dry.
All the traditional things were there: the pancake breakfast, where they cooked dozens of pancakes at a time; the ice cream social with all the ice cream you could eat; Vendor Day with over 70 vendors showing off their wares; Children’s Hospital raffle which sold all of its printed 12,500 tickets and raised over $10K for Children’s Hospital; Warn Night with a dinner of freshly grilled chicken with Adele’s homemade habanero sauce which she brought from Oregon, music by the band “Swerve” and, of course, the coveted Warn door prizes; and the last night of a Door Prizes with a prize for each and every registrant.
But there was also a new event this year – the Land Use Summit which as a gathering of various organizations – COHVCO, Blue Ribbon, CoA4WDCI, Tread Lightly, etc. - to discuss status of public lands and how to work together better.
Each evening there was entertainment under the big tent. There was a movie night for kids, karaoke for kids and adults, music by band “Swerve” on Warn night, a performance by the “Top Hogs,” trained pigs who have performed at many state fairs, TV (Jay Leno, David Letterman, National Geographic, and Animal Planet, to name a few), schools, senior centers and Lincoln Center and a special guest appearance by Jessi Coombs, TV personality and metal fabricator who co-hosted over 90 episodes of Spike’s Xtreme 4x4, and is one of the hosts on Velocity’s All Girls Garage.
Greg Beery, owner of 4WD Xtreme, was the vendor who sponsored the Kid’s Games. Over 100 kids participated and it was very successful.
Besides 4-wheeling, there were a number of interesting things to do. We toured the Georgetown Energy Museum which is located in an operational hydroelectric generating plant owned and operated by Xcel Energy. We rode the Georgetown Loop Train (Howell’s won 2 free tickets on town appreciation night) and toured the Lebanon Mine. We toured the Hotel de Paris in Georgetown. It was founded by Frenchman, Louis Dupuy in 1875. It has served as a first-class French restaurant, showroom for traveling salesmen and a luxurious hotel during the Gilded Age. Today it is owned and operated by the The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Colorado. And, we toured the Argo Mill and panned for gold in Idaho Springs.
It was a very fun week and we thank MHJC and its 200 volunteers for hosting the event. We look forward to next year’s event in Leadville.