The weather was flawless, the visitors were enchanted, and the Centennial Ranch “Open Ranch” event was the main attraction of a glorious fall weekend in Ouray County, Colorado.
Ranch owner Vince Kontny declared the event “a roaring success.” He and his wife, Joan, welcomed the public for a celebration of Colorado’s ranching heritage September 24 and 25. Families and individuals from throughout the state and beyond toured the ranch’s historic buildings and enjoyed chili and biscuits at this fundraiser for the Ouray County Historical Society.
An estimated 550 people attended the event, which included tours of the Kontny’s timber-frame home, the centennial barn, line cabin and the calving shed. Hats off to the 50+ volunteers who contributed their time and talents to keep all the activities flowing smoothly.
Visitors received detailed self-guided tour books that explained the history and construction of ranch structures. Volunteers stationed throughout the buildings provided further guidance. Designer/artist Ted Moews, whose handiwork appears throughout the buildings, chatted with visitors as they marveled at unique architectural features. Former ranch manager Duane Beamer served as chief cook and campfire tender. And Vince mingled constantly with visitors, making everyone feel welcome.
Comments ranged from “this place is incredible” to “what a wonderful day you’ve given us.” Compliments went to the chef for the tasty campfire chili and biscuits; young and old alike had great fun roasting hotd ogs over hot coals.After lunch, many lingered outside the line cabin, savoring a quiet moment on the banks of the Uncompahgre River. Children and those who are children at heart particularly loved the barn, where they petted a saddle horse and a huge, gentle draft horse.
The event was a celebration of ranching life as it was in the early days, as it is now, and will remain in the future, thanks to the Kontny’s decision to place the property in a conservation easement. Protected in perpetuity, the ranch will be used only for agricultural production.
All in all, the Open Ranch deventy met Vince’s main criterion for success—that people would leave satisfied that the event was well worth their time and money.