For over five decades, for one summer weekend, the town of Mancos has let loose to celebrate small-town living by way of Mancos Days.
The three-day extravaganza is jam-packed with events that, in Mancos, have become synonymous with summer - parades, live music, pie-eating contests, duck races, water fights with the Mancos Valley Fire Department, and much more.
This year's event is also bringing in new additions like a classic car show and ghost tours, sponsored by the Mancos Historic Society.
Leslie Hopkins, parks and recreation director with the Town of Mancos, has helped coordinate the event for 17 years. She says attendees can expect the good old-fashioned, family-friendly time that has kept Mancos Days alive for over 50 years.
"It's a big family thing," said Hopkins.
The fun begins Friday at 10 a.m. with the Kids Parade. Events run on the hour and include the Queen's Tea with the 2015 Mancos Days Queen Ellen Paquin. Another staple of Mancos Days is the Queen's Lunch, which is slated for Saturday.
Every year, the Ladies Auxiliary of Montezuma County VFW Post 5231 elects a Mancos Days Pioneer Queen, a 50-year tradition.
Paquin, a lifelong Mancos Valley resident, is a second-generation Mancos Days Pioneer Queen. In 1966, her mother, Myrtle, held the title, and Paquin plans to wear her mother's Pioneer Queen dress to celebrate.
Aside from the three-day softball tournaments, and kids and adult games, another tradition is the teen dance, which is held this year at Grand Avenue and South Mesa Street on Saturday night.
"(Mancos Days) is a cherished event with a lot of people, and high school graduates kind of use it as a way to reconnect as a way to with class grads," said Marie Chiarizia, director of the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce. "It's great for the economy, and great for hotels and motels here."
Mancos resident Barbara Zeutzius says has strong family ties to Mancos Days, as her father and sister were planners back in early days.
"It started out after some of the merchants in town wanted to do something to bring people in. They wanted to celebrate it on Colorado's birthday by doing it the last full weekend in July," said Zeutzius. Colorado's birthday is Aug. 1. "It started out smaller and grew. It's not quite as big as it used to be. As the town grew, the land they were having some of the events on filled."
One event from yesteryear she remembers is "animal catching," which would put kids in a circle filled with puppies, kittens, ducks and more.
"So many people were allowed to be in a circle, and you had to get permission, and then they went in to get a critter they wanted," she said.
Aside from the events, Mancos Days has always been centered around bringing current and former residents together. Zeutizius' Mancos High School graduating class will be gathering for their 41st reunion at this weekend's event.
"I remember people who would plan their vacation for Mancos days," she said.
Mancos Days kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 24, and has events all weekend beginning as early as 6:30 a.m.
Schedules will be posted on the town's new wayfinder kiosks at Main Street and Grand Avenue, and at the back side of Boyle Park.