“This event is one activity that brings everyone in the Bluff community and even the county together,” said Janet Wilcox, Bluff Fort volunteer and San Juan County resident. “It’s a celebration on what makes Bluff unique, from the diverse cultures to the food to the crafts to its history.
“The festival is a chance for everyone with different backgrounds to come together and recognize both the arrival of the Hole in the Rock pioneers as well as the Native American history, which goes back for centuries.”
The Founders Day and Frybread Festival features lectures, food, activities and frybread. All events are free and open to the public. The three-day festival kicks off Friday at 11:30 a.m. with the dedication of a mural that was created by students at Whitehorse High School, after which the water wheel in the Bluff Fort will be dedicated at 1 p.m.
Later on Friday, descendants from the original 16 pioneer families will pass out different colored ribbons to those who visit the Bluff Fort cabins. The ribbons represent each family’s heritage.
In the afternoon and evening, attendees can participate in a heritage demonstration, Dutch oven tasting, rag rug weaving, storytelling, square dancing, and more.
A new event, focusing on local and regional storytelling, will be offered on Friday, April 6 at the Desert Rose Resort & Cabins in Bluff. Local historian Robert S. McPherson will coordinate the session, which will run from 3 to 6 p.m. at the resort facility located on the southern end of Bluff.
The event, sponsored by Desert Rose Resort, is free and open to the public.
Speakers will tell their tales in 20-minute presentations, with brief question and answer periods following paired sessions.
At 3 p.m., Winston Hurst will discuss “Strangers’ Waltz: Mormon Americans Meet the Puebloan Anasazi,” which will be followed by Jonathan Till’s session on “Sacred Puebloan Geography of the Bluff Valley.”
Beginning at 4 p.m., Heather Young will speak of “Women Your Daughters Should Know,” which will be followed by Don Larson’s program, “Men Your Sons Should Know: Writings of A. Lyman and D. Andrus.”
Following a combined question and answer period, presentations will begin again at 5 p.m. The program’s moderator, Robert McPherson, will present “Three’s a Crowd: Utes, Navajos and Mormons in the Bluff Area.”
Afterwards, veteran cowboy and teacher Jim Keyes will give his take on “Cowboy Up”. Again, a question and answer period will follow.
Events at the Desert Rose will conclude just before the planned Square Dance that will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bluff Fort.
Saturday events start with breakfast between 7 and 9 a.m. at the Bluff Fort, followed by a parade at 10 a.m. (Those participating need to register by 8:30 a.m. at the Fort.)
The parade will include two bands, covered wagons, along with floats and other entries. Families and organizations are encouraged to participate.
Throughout the day, Heritage demonstrations continue at the Fort. Vendor trucks will sell food, and Twin Rocks Trading Post and Café will host a Fry Bread sampling bar.
From noon to 2 p.m., a Blue Mountain Navajo Unity event will be held at the Community Center, followed by basket weaving demos at Twin Rocks from 2 to 4 p.m.
The San Juan School District Art Show will exhibit student work upstairs at the Bluff fort Co-op building. Winners will be announved at noon.
Other activities include a Fort Heritage demonstration, tours of St. Christopher’s Mission, Ute Cultural program, and basket weaving demonstration.
Food trucks will be available throughout the day for meals and drinks.
The day ends with the famous Fry Bread Festival and Fling, followed by a movie at 7 p.m. at the Community Center.
The festival will conclude on Sunday with an interdenominational worship at St. Christopher’s Mission at 10 a.m.