MONTROSE – A noon parade down Main Street will kick off Montrose’s Independence Day celebration, but the party continues all afternoon with SummerFest, the city’s traditional 4th of July event, held this year for the first time atop Sunset Mesa.
In years past, SummerFest was hosted by the Montrose Area Merchants Association, but when city funding ceased, it turned into an all-volunteer event spearheaded by Polly Hohlenkamp of Leadership Circle, a local real estate development company.
According to Hohlenkamp, the event will have lots for the entire family, including a giant slip and slide, climbing wall, go-cart races, sidewalk art, sand castle contest, adult tricycle races and more.
“We also have the hay bale toss, which is really popular with farmers,” Hohlenkamp said, “and for the giant sand castle event, we have lots of sand.”
There will also be plenty of opportunities for kids to wash off all that sand with “wet water fun,” she said, alongside ample grass and shade.
Local DJs will play music and lots of food vendors will be on hand. Families are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs and stay for the day and watch fireworks by the Montrose Rotary Club after dark.
Another highlight will be helicopter rides offered by Mark Young of Vertical Colorado for $40 per person, no age limit, between 1 and 4 p.m.
The second annual Salsa Recipe Contest runs from 1 to 2 p.m. Registration forms can be picked up ahead of time at Panchero’s Restaurant. Other events include a pie-eating contest, “ice cream gobble,” egg toss, three-legged race, tug-of-war and the ever-popular Carry Your Wife race.
Last year’s SummerFest drew 5,000 people to the Target parking lot in Riverside Landing shopping center, and Hohlenkamp expects at least that many to come to Sunset Mesa this year. One highlight of last year’s event was the overhead ping pong drop. The same event will be held this year at 4 p.m., when thousands of balls will be dropped to the crowd via helicopter, with each numbered ball corresponding to a prize.
Summer Fest, in its fifth year, has been put on for the last two years at a fraction of the former cost, Hohlenkamp said, thanks to lots of volunteer help and mostly in-kind contributions by Montrose merchants.
“Merchants in town donated prizes, services and general help,” Hohlenkamp said. “We took an event that cost $30,000 and did it for less than $3,500 last year, and with 10 times the amount of people.”
Staging the ping-pong ball drop helps draw crowds, Hohlenkamp said, but SummerFest is a collaborative effort.
“The city has been helping with the park, and Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism helped with advertising,” she said. “And the merchants, every one, have given us something. We can do a lot if we work together.”
To get to Sunset Mesa, head west on Main Street, south on Chipeta Drive, and follow the signs. For more information on SummerFest, call 209-8221.