Victorian, Cowboy X-Mas Ball in Fairplay
Summit County, CO ColoradoFAIRPLAY – It’s going to be a cowboy Christmas once again in the town of Fairplay this holiday season, thanks to the 12th annual Victorian & Cowboy Christmas Ball coming up on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the historic Fairplay Hotel.While Fairplay is known for its mining history, visitors may not realize that the area also played host to large numbers of sheep and cattle ranchers starting in the mid-1800s. By 1876, the area had gained a reputation as one of the principal hay-producing regions in Colorado.Fairplay’s rich cowboy history is recreated every year in the Victorian & Cowboy Christmas Ball, where costumes aren’t just encouraged – they’re required. “I’ve only had to turn away one person in all these years; it was a girl wearing spandex and a cropped spaghetti strap top, and I just couldn’t let her in,” said Annie Monsen, who with her husband Chuck is co-chair of the event.All proceeds from the Ball will go to Sertoma, a charitable organization which also sponsors other Fairplay events every year, including the Burro Days Beer Garden in July and the Park County Rodeo Beer Garden in August. Sertoma, which stands for Service to Mankind, is an umbrella non-profit that distributes funding to area programs for the hearing-impaired, as well as local charities such as Boys and Girls Clubs and after-school programs.
As in the past, this year’s Christmas Ball attendees can dance to the strains of period music provided by the 4th Artillery Quadrille Ensemble. Dancing instruction will be available throughout the evening for participants in the Virginia Reel and other Victorian dances.The Fairplay Hotel dining room will be converted into an 1880s ballroom for the evening, complete with Christmas decorations. The whole affect, according to Chuck Monsen, will make you feel like you’re traveling back in time.”People who are just passing through and don’t know what’s going on will come into the hotel, and when they walk in the front door it’s like stepping into 1880,” said Monsen, who himself is an SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) reenactor. Monsen regularly participates in SASS events wearing 1880s cowboy clothing, and also performs in historic gunfights during Fairplay’s annual Burro Days. Since the Victorian era encompassed so many clothing styles, the sky’s the limit as far as variety. In past years, Monsen said that men have come to the ball attired in everything from 1800s military uniforms to cowboy outfits to Victorian frock-coat tuxedos. As for the ladies, Annie Monsen said that past attendees have come in everything from saloon girl and Annie Oakley costumes to Southern belle ruffled hoop skirts and formal riding attire.Annie Monsen likes to make her own costume each year, but for those who don’t sew, she says that several of today’s styles can easily be converted into a Victorian look.”Broom skirts are popular now, and you can put a broom skirt together with a lace blouse and vest or anything else that looks period,” she said. “And I like to mix and match.
I have a couple of vests and skirts and a jacket, and I’ll pair up the different pieces with a lacy blouse. This way, you can get different looks each year from the same pieces.”But, she added, if you’re planning on dressing as a cowboy, you’ll have to go for the pre-1900 cowboy look. And if you’re stumped for ideas, just remember – sometimes it’s best to keep it simple.”I would suggest a pair of boots, a white shirt, vest and black pants,” Annie Monsen said. “And if you wear a tie, it should be a gambler-style, or a bolo or string tie.”Costumes can also be rented at a special price from Saunders Rentals, a company that makes the trip up from Colorado Springs to Fairplay each year in order to provide Victorian and period cowboy outfits for Christmas Ball attendees.
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