Independence, fortitude, true grit, a little bit wild — that’s the “Spirit of the West,” and it’s this year’s theme for Western Welcome Week.
While the festival has always embodied that spirit, some of the events take it more to heart than others.
For example, folks can mosey on down to South Platte Park from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 10 to experience what brought a slew of pioneers west in the first place — gold panning on the South Platte River. South Suburban Parks and Recreation provides all the equipment, and those who strike it rich get to keep whatever they find for free. The park is off Mineral Avenue west of Santa Fe Drive.
Stick around to Stampede! for Open Space — same time, same place — and find out what life was like for a trapper. There are crafts, educational displays and old-fashioned games for the kids.
Afterward, stop by the Bin Bonanza at the Depot Art Gallery, 2069 W. Powers Ave., to rope in a bargain on unframed artwork.
There’s a literal stampede on Aug. 11 — the second annual Pancake Stampede 5K Run/Walk. It starts at 8 a.m. at Hudson Gardens, 6115 S. Santa Fe Drive, and runs down the Mary Carter Greenway along the river. It includes a ticket to the WWW Family Pancake Breakfast so runners can get some vittles across the street at Arapahoe Community College, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.
The breakfast is reminiscent of an old-time, after-church picnic, with a pancake breakfast, old-fashioned cake contest and the WWW Kids Games of Old, including cow milking, a sack race, apple dash and more. The cutest stampede of all is at 10 a.m., when the littlest cowpokes compete in the 18th annual Bruce Wolf Stick Horse Stampede.
The Elks get in on the Old West theme with their Hometown Pig Roast & Dance, starting at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 in the lodge parking lot at 5749 S. Curtice St. Roast pig, baked beans, coleslaw, corn on the cob and a roll ($9, or kids can get chips and a hot dog for $4), plus rare public access to the lodge’s full cash bar inside.
Before hoedown-ing the night away with the Elks, stop by First Presbyterian Church of Littleton, 1609 W. Littleton Blvd., noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 16. Perhaps nothing speaks more to Americana than the 11th annual Quilt Show. From one-of-a-kind antiques to modern art, every block tells a story. This year, there is a special display of baby dresses, and visitors can tour the historic church.
Finally, start Festival Day — Aug. 17 — off right with a Grand Western Sandwich Breakfast at Littleton United Methodist Church, 5894 S. Datura St., 6:30 a.m. until 10 a.m.