Small Town Grand Lake Produces Exciting Results With Annual US Constitution Week Celebration
(written by Constitution Week Committee)
The mountain village of Grand Lake, Colorado, with a population of about 400 year-round residents, has produced a week-long celebration of the US Constitution for the past 4 years. This year’s 5th Annual US Constitution Week is September 12-17, 2016, with constitutional experts speaking every night, including nationally known Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke as the keynote speaker on Saturday, September 17th at noon. You don’t want to miss this year’s celebration!
How does a town this size pull off this kind of extravaganza? Passion, lots of hard work, a willingness to sacrifice and share talents, and a vision to be a model for other small towns who may want to educate, promote and celebrate the US Constitution with an event of their own.
According to Tom Goodfellow, the mastermind behind this week-long celebration, the seed for US Constitution Week began 5 years ago when Tom realized that the 4th of July is celebrated far and wide, but few even knew there was a Constitution Day. President Dwight Eisenhower adopted a Constitution Week in 1956, but it is poorly celebrated compared to its Independence Day cousin. One thing led to another, Gary Sutherby and Doris Braun inspired Tom to move forward, businesses got interested, and voila, the US Constitution Week in Grand Lake, CO, was born.
The first year, September 2012, included one evening speaker, a round table discussion of the US Constitution, two speakers on Saturday, a pie eating and throwing contest, bingo, a DJ dance party, a parade, and of course, fireworks. With a budget of only $300, marketing consisted of local newspapers, posters and lots of word of mouth.
Over the next 2 years, the event grew into more evening speakers with local restaurants and organizations becoming hosts and sponsors, and some contributions and grants were acquired to help enhance the budget. But still, the whole event was organized and manned by volunteers, as it still is today. The town of Grand Lake was on board as they saw that this celebration was no fly by night event, the word got out and more and more folks began to attend and enjoy the celebration, which takes place during the most beautiful season in the Rockies, Fall.
In 2015, the schedule included 5 evening speakers, 1 daytime speaker and a Keynote Speaker on Saturday. The parade grew, a non profit Expo was created to honor volunteerism, The Roadhouse won Constitution Trivia, and the marketing budget had grown too. We had guests visiting from 5 different states, which added to the tourism count, and others began to ask how to start a US Constitution Week in their home towns.
This year, 2016, is the 5th Annual US Constitution Week in Grand Lake, and we are honored and humbled by the line up of speakers. Over the past 5 years, there have been 15 different speakers. This year the Keynote Speaker, Sheriff David A. Clarke who will speak at a ticketed event on Friday night hosted by the Grand County Sheriff’s Department, will deliver his keynote speech on Saturday, September 17th in the Grand Lake Town Park at noon. Marketing outreach now includes not only local media and newspapers, but state-wide radio, TV, webpages, calendars, interviews on several radio and TV shows, and a national awareness due to Sheriff Clarke’s exposure.
You won’t want to miss Grand Lake’s 5th Annual US Constitution Week, “The Premier Constitution Week Celebration in America.” Maybe you will want to start a US Constitution Week celebration in YOUR hometown. Grand Lake is happy to show you what we did. You will need a passion for the freedoms designated in the US Constitution, a town full of ready and excited folks, a little bit of talent and money, and according to Tom, a wife like his dear Mary, who is supportive and willing to pick up the business slack. Behind every good man there is an exceptional woman!
September Events in Grand Lake:
-September 8th-11th, 15th-18th, 22nd-25th & 30th: Million Dollar Quartet at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
-September 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th: Juniper Library Storytime
-September 12th-17th: Constitution Week Celebration
-September 17th: Rotary Club of Grand Lake Bingo
-September 17th: Constitution Week Celebration Fireworks Over Grand Lake
-September 18th: Painting for Philanthropy
-October 1st: Million Dollar Quartet at Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre
It’s the most beautiful time of the year in Grand Lake with colorful leaves and bugling elk in Rocky Mountain National Park!