by Gary Rollins
HUERFANO- Mapquest says 1,867 miles, but Walsenburg is truly a lot closer to Manhattan than it was a week ago! How can that be?
Well, the 80-or-so people who gathered at the Plaza de Las Leones last Saturday evening were excited to learn the forecast for the total renovation of Walsenburg’s Fox Theater. From this point forward, the landmark theater will be known as the Fox on the Rocks.
The old brick building with a rich past may soon feel new life as the combined communities of Walsenburg, La Veta, Cuchara and Gardner join to create a theater venue like Raton’s Shuler Theater which the Raton community began to develop not that many years ago.
Saturday evening’s occasion was the official launch of the fifth season of the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival. The audience was entertained by a few of the musicians who will be featured this September 24-27. All were introduced by Barbara Yule, Director of the Celtic Music Festival. The profits from the Festival will, from this point on, be dedicated to the restoration of the Fox on the Rocks.
Nancy Dick, President of the non-profit Spanish Peaks Alliance for Arts and Education, detailed the Alliance’s role in planning the restoration of Fox on the Rocks in the years ahead. She mentioned the Alliance would play a part in attracting high-quality entertainment for the combined communities. Stirling Lathrop also spoke about the Alliance’s mission.
Although the effort has just begun, it was hoped that there would be financial and moral support from the Huerfano County movers-and-shakers who attended the event. The purpose of the evening was not to request donations, but there was a gentleman in the audience, Black Diamond’s Rich McEntee, who offered a contribution on-the-spot of $1,000 which he later increased to $1500.
The group heard from Bill Fegan, the man from Raton responsible for developing Raton’s Shuler Theater. Fegan painted a glowing picture about the potential for a theater like Raton’s in Walsenburg.
Aspen’s Brad Moore, a man with a reputation for developing theater projects, profiled the “wish list” that would bring the Fox to the point where major theatrical and musical events could be staged. David Berton, principal of Real Architecture in Denver, is developing an estimate of tiered expenditures and a timeline.
Emphasis was placed on the need for a community buy-in for the concept. Current sponsors for the evening’s activities and for the project were introduced: Fuller Western Real Estate, the Huerfano County Tourism Council and the Huerfano Journal. As more sponsors sign on, banners with their logos will be displayed at future events.
It is strongly believed that good entertainment – musicians and musical groups, entertainers, singers, and speakers — would serve as a magnet to attract visitors from a 150-mile radius. The first booking could occur within the next six to eight weeks if certain critical improvements can be made.
John Fuller, who was in attendance with his wife, Jeannie, had this to say about the evening, “We were delighted to find such an enthusiastic, positive audience. I think the timing is right for these communities to band together and support a cause that will be of direct benefit to young people who have an interest in the arts and in the theater. My wife and I are pleased to have the opportunity to provide both our financial support and our continuing encouragement.”
Show biz? Coming to Walsenburg? Sure sounds like it. Sooner than later, it would appear.
Wonder what it would take to change Walsenburg’s Main Street to Broadway?