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Black Diamond Jubilee history

by Larry Patrick

WALSENBURG- The 12th annual Black Diamond Jubilee will be held this weekend in Walsenburg. For those new to the area, Black Diamond means coal. The coal mining business has long been gone from Huerfano County but the history and the memories are still fresh with many long time citizens.

    The Black Diamond Jubilee was started in 1996 by the Huerfano County Chamber of Commerce as an annual celebration for Walsenburg and a way of reminding people how and why Walsenburg began.

    The Black Diamond Jubilee has had its trials and tribulations over the 12- year period. It began strong the first year or two in downtown Walsenburg on W. 5th and 6th Streets.  For those wondering, Main Street is a state highway so it cannot be blocked off for a 2-3 day event.  The Chamber looked to expand the Black Diamond Jubilee by adding a carnival, golf tournament, rodeo and car show.  There wasn’t room downtown to add these events. The carnival added a big entertainment venue and helped the Black Diamond financially.  The rodeo didn’t make money for those putting it on.

    A few years later, a number of merchants began clamoring to bring the event back downtown.  The Chamber board decided to do so even though it meant losing the revenue from the carnival. The carnival couldn’t make money from a smaller venue downtown, so the Black Diamond spent time at Heritage Park, site of the old train depot and also downtown Walsenburg.

    Things kept looking up for the Jubilee until Mother Nature decided to rear her ugly head.  High winds wreaked havoc on the annual celebration for several years in a row.  Vendors couldn’t keep their tents anchored down and product and flyers often had to be chased down.  Windy conditions also kept people away.  The Chamber of Commerce decided that they needed to move the event from early June to a later date, so late June was chosen.

    After a couple of sub-par years, the Chamber board of directors decided to hold events downtown and at Fiesta Park last year. Under the guidance of chairman, Jim Vigil and numerous Chamber volunteers, the Black Diamond Jubilee had a resurgence in 2007.

    Last year, Chamber member, Curtis Pryor and others came up with the Walsenburg Grand Prix coal cart races on W. 5th next to the Mining Museum for Friday afternoons. It turned out to be a fun event and is to be repeated again this Friday afternoon beginning at 3 pm with several age classifications.  It’s not too late to get entered.  For information, contact the Chamber at 738-1065 or Curtis at 738-2842.

    The Miner’s Justice Jail was held last year with jailer, Patty Corsentino, locking people up and throwing away the key. It raised a lot of money and even the people arrested had a pretty good time as they waited for friends, co-workers and others to bail them out.  The Chamber is already taking names of honorable hombres in the community to be arrested this Friday. The jail will be located outside the Chamber office.

    A new event this year is the chili cook-off to be held at Heritage Park at the old train depot.  If you have what it takes to make a mean chili, contact the Chamber to sign-up at 738-1065.  The Black Diamond Jubilee parade also has room for additional participants.  Call Bill Downey at 738-6335 or the Chamber office. 

    Like any event, the Black Diamond Jubilee can only be successful if the community gets out to support it.  The Chamber Board of directors and other Chamber members have worked hard to put on an entertaining celebration with something that everyone can enjoy during this 3-day period.  They hope to see you there.  

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