The iconic FDGD appeared at the traffic circle again, and I thought “is it time again already?” This weekend harkens the 17th annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival in Nederland, when around 20,000 people from far and wide will descend on our tiny town in the foothills.
For small mountain towns that are not home to celebrities, they depend on festivals like this to survive the winter/spring months until the bulk of tourists come in the summer and fall. March can be a difficult time of year for Nederland, in that the ski season is winding down at Eldora, and yet it’s too early for warm weather recreation.
Enter, Frozen Dead Guy Days. Someone (who??) had the brilliant idea to build off of an old guy being cryogenically frozen in a Tuff Shed and created Nederland’s claim to fame — Dead Guy Days. And entire weekend festival filled with whacky events centered around the “frozen” theme. Frozen Turkey Bowling, the Hearse Parade, the Polar Plunge.
My personal favorite is the Coffin Races. What could be more nutty than watching costumed teams of people carting around a person in a coffin through a snowy obstacle course? And then having the joy of pelting said teams with snowballs as they cross the finish line.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature has not been cooperating with Frozen Dead Guy Days. When it was first launched, the second weekend in March seemed like the ideal team to hold a “frozen” festival. The month of March is considered one of the snowiest months on the Front Range after all. In only its second year, 2003, a massive snowstorm hit Nederland, dropping over 5 feet of snow. Perfect!
We first attended FDGD several years ago, when it snowed so much, it literally snowed out the Coffin Races, forcing them to be held on Sunday because the snow closed Boulder Canyon. I still remember standing on the hillside on a brisk, clear sunny day with over a foot of fresh snow, cheering the Muppet Team as they slipped and slid around the Coffin Race obstacle course.
But the last few Marches have brought temperatures more reminiscent of summer rather than snow and ice. And somehow Frozen Dead Guy Days just doesn’t seem to carry the same panache when it’s 60 degrees without a lick of snow on the ground. Frozen turkey bowling just isn’t the same when the turkey thaws forcing participants to hurl it overhand at the pins, rather than rolling it along the snow and ice. They’ve taken to importing snow for the coffin races, due to the lack of white stuff.
Nevertheless, I’m happy for the local businesses. Nederland winters can be tough for the restaurants and shops, since most of the Eldora skiers don’t stop on their way back from the slopes. The festival gives them a huge revenue boost when they are needing it the most.
If you come to visit our fair town this weekend, please be considerate. Drink the beer, but throw your cups and trash away. Have fun, but don’t trash our town. And really, really, consider taking the bus. Boulder Canyon is not the place to test your driving skills after downing a few.