Living history: The past comes to life at Antelope Island's Fielding Garr Ranch
For the ranch compound's "fridges" were the ice house, now vanished from its spot between the bunkhouse and the spring, but once stocked with winter ice from the Garr Spring pond, and the still-chilly spring house, where goods floated on a raft on the dark, enclosed pond. It is surprisingly cool inside the spring house, even when the temperature is 100 degrees outside, Shelley says.
Life at Fielding Garr Ranch was definitely different — and often lonely and difficult. Antelope Island was close to, yet away from, the pressures of the city, and a one-of-a-kind place in which to grow up, Max Harward decided later in life.
His years here as a boy, he wrote, were "the best of times."
'Cowboy Legends' Memorial Day weekend
ANTELOPE ISLAND, Great Salt Lake — Rife as it is with authentic Western artifacts and lore, Fielding Garr Ranch can be an eye-opening, days-of-yore family getaway destination any time of the year.
But the ranch dives into nostalgia every Memorial Day weekend, when it hosts the "Cowboy Legends Poetry and Music Gathering," under way through Monday. The mini festival features local talent — though nationally known acts wouldn't mind getting in on the fun, says ranch curator Clay Shelley.
Shelley, workmen and volunteers have been busy getting the ranch ready, with three performance areas and a "trading post" for vendors (cowboy artists, Western clothing, saddle makers, activities for the kids). Some 6,000 people attended last year. Shelley expects even more this time around.
There are performances all day, with a dinner show at 6 p.m. today and Saturday ($16 per person), and a campfire potluck dinner at 6 p.m. Sunday. Saturday will also include a "Buckaroo Dance" at 8 p.m.
Wagon rides will be offered, and guided horse rides can be arranged through R & G Horses ($50 hourly; for reservations call 888-878-8002 or 1-801-726-9514).
Camping is allowed at the ranch only two times each year, Shelley notes: during the annual bison roundup in the fall and during this festival ($15 per night).
Antelope Island State Park is accessed via I-15's Antelope Drive exit in Layton, west through Syracuse and on the Davis County Causeway. There is a $1 causeway fee and a park entry fee of $9 per vehicle (unless you have a state parks pass). Fielding Garr Ranch, on the island's southeastern shore, is 12 miles south of the marina at the causeway's western end.
For more details, see the festival's website at www.cowboylegendsai.com.
— Ray Boren
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