At Central City’s Teller House
By Jaclyn Schrock
Oh the festivities of the original Gilpin County seat bring giggly children to Santa, coloring contest, and cookie decorating by the amazing ginger bread house! Many children and adults heard the clip-clopping on the brick roads along Main Street in Central City, thrilled to get free rides. The cool sunny days this week end made for a pleasant ride when being pulled by the strong white horse harnessed to the elegant carriage provided and operated by Queen City Horse & Carriage. The ride was a great break between strolling through the shops and Bazaar tables loaded with local artists wares in three rooms of the Teller House.
Tommyknockers were well known to the late 1800’s miners who emigrated from Cornwall, England to work the gold and silver mines in Gilpin, Jefferson, and Clear Creek Counties. Tommyknockers came with the tales and suspicions of little elf-like creatures who lived in the deep, inner tunnels of the mines. They could often be heard, but seldom seen. Two types are told of, the helpful ones who knocked on mine walls to show a good vein or warn of pending danger, and the mischievous ones who blew out candles, hid tools and dumped lunch boxes. Many miners would offer kindness with scraps of food for them to encourage everyone’s safe keeping. The whole week in Central City honors Tommyknockers in our current holiday celebrations.
Some area residents joined in the fun Friday night, with Central City Mayor Kathryn Heider lighting the Christmas tree. The charming decorations were placed on the tree the day before by Gilpin County School Children for their annual trip to Central City for storytelling and fun. With the beautiful, tall, bushy tree shining colored lights about 6:30 pm, the 30+ crowd with real candle flames shielded by clear plastic cups walked and sang Christmas Carols along Main Street to the Teller House. In two large upstairs rooms a community potluck dinner and the Peak to Peak Choral performance made for much communal sharing and musical merriment. There were mostly local folks, though some were from surrounding areas – even as far as Rifle, CO.
Upon opening the festively decorated door, which kept out the cold on Eureka Street, one felt the cheery reminder of times passed entering the Teller House from the freshly restored cement sidewalk to look like wooden planks. Once inside the late 1800’s décor settled into one’s brain, and your breath was caught from feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. Many guests focused on the impressive grand staircase to what had once been historical hotel accommodations, then perhaps the tall ornately fine clock under the stairway landing surrounded by the rich red Gilded Age wall paper. These historic facilities have been kindly made available by the Central City Opera Association.
Now, remembering why you are here, the information table near the bottom of the steps welcomes you to the 20th Annual Tommyknocker Holiday Bazaar. This is where Bazaar shoppers could get a free ticket for the hourly carriage ride, directions for the event, information about Tommyknockers, and opportunities to support the Belvedere Theatre restoration efforts.
In the enlarged room uphill of the entry, one is drawn in by the open ornate iron gates to holiday cheer in the Gilpin Room. First you see Father Christmas sitting near the front of the room by the windows and a Christmas tree. Near the white haired fellow is a table with chairs for the children to select from a basket of crayons to color a page of choice for the coloring contest. Also, a table and chairs allows children to decorate a cookie and take it home in a bag. Nearby is the LaNora Braning Gingerbread House, to inspire edible artistry.
As we continue into the Bazaar, Carriage House Dreams of Central City and Black Hawk offer antique and collectable items from Barbara Thielemann and Robbie Zmuda. Closest to the gingerbread house was the displayed works of a local potter, Forrest Anderson of Wabi Pottery in Russel Gulch. Next to the antiques were fantasy steel artworks by Gary Kragenbrink of Central City. The steel is generally recycled and found to go with the creative idea he has in mind. Brass and other metals are used and take great effort to bring each piece together. One 6 foot dragon fly is now in Michigan flying above the ground. Smaller pieces were on display for us, next to rocks. Jack Sliemers of Moss Rock Enterprises had on display many amazing specimens of rocks. He has been collecting rocks since he was 10, for 72 years now. He did have a shop in Denver, but now only brings items to a few shows like this, working out of his home at Chief Hosa. Still in the Gilpin Room, across from Moss Rock, we find the elegant glass works of Mary Bell Artic of Mountain Goat Gallery, a favorite stopping off point on Main Street in Central City.
In the expanded room beyond the front windowed section of the Gilpin Room, enjoyable photographs of local wildlife and our amazing scenery were found. In their binder are photos that can be specially selected for application to t-shirts, cards, calendars and much more. Debra Mestdagh of Black Hawk with DAM Photos LLC, yet another local artist. Across from these framed photos and t-shirt racks we found Susan Smith of Moon Doggie Gardens Design in Evergreen. They had amazing pots with built in flower arranging forms for upscale fine flowers, copper works, jewelry and fabulous rose like candles displayed.
While still in the Gilpin Room, Bazaar shoppers found Ron Engels representing Peak to Peak Rotary with Thursday lunch meetings to benefit many community opportunities. Near the atrium door was Julia Morris offering smashed hand jelly in jars from Wine Jelly. The Central City Volunteer Fire Department had live greens from the west coast to decorate homes. Wreaths, table center pieces and swags offered as fund raisers were available from $25, with full fine red ribbons and bows. Near the door to the most uphill room, Robyn Beck of Robyn’s Nest offers many varieties of Rocky Mountain Popcorn. She shared the table with adorably dressed Elisabeth Logan. Red Queen Crafts had hand woven scarves, with knitting and crocheted baby things offered.
Going to the next room with the bar and fireplace were colorfully crocheted hats, scarves and fun items. By the steps were wine charms by Doris Phillips of Majesty, even some wine bottle holders. Next up was Julian and Wanda Gothard, winners in the couples Victorian outfit contests. Julian has Gothard Photography and is from Black Hawk. He hikes about in Gilpin County, Golden Gate Canyon, and Mount Evans, sitting still for 30-45 minutes to wait for the critters to get used to him so they start to come out to be photographed. One cute photo was of a marmot scolding him for intruding. His table was shared with his wife who had semi-precious stones made into jewelry with radiant colors to go with their stunning outfits.
Majestic Mountain Design had Vickie Barringer of Evergreen offering her goods while dressed in her elegant Victorian outfit, also a couples contest winner. There were collectables, jewelry and fine wraps to be gathered from this well-established booth. Two more vendors included Anderson Windows and Phoxphotos. We all value our windows with a view here, so found benefits to their presence. Holly Simon, a photographer for 15 years, has been selling her photos as Phoxphotos. Wild animal shots from the local areas and throughout Colorado could be purchased in frames, calendars, note cards and even magnetic frames.
Going back through the entry, and down the few steps, one would get to the “Face on the Bar Room Floor.” The first booth had books and a poster about high altitude, with a marijuana leaf and a butterfly. Speaking to the artist, formerly a potter from Russel Gulch, conversation drifted to the world renowned Ghost Town Disk Golf, with tranquil historic property and highly sought technical challenges. Find out more about Brian and Beth at Ghost Town Disk Golf online and Facebook. Before getting to the atrium for snacks, two more booths flank the famous protected “Face on the Bar Room Floor.” A Little Bit of This and That offered cute little hand-crafted goodies. Jeni Swan’s The Salvation Branch had ceramic Christmas ornaments and handmade shawls crocheted with a large needle.
At last, I took a break to enjoy hot tea and pie, while smelling tantilizing chili in the atrium connecting the two original historic buildings. The Elks Ladies had wonderful service for this refreshing stop.
Tommyknockers Holiday Bazaar was facilitated by two ladies Barbara Thielemann and Shirley Voorhies. Their appreciation for the booth vendors, donators, volunteers, and community participation are listed in the letter to the editor in this edition. They have had a few years’ experience with this event and have really enjoyed the contestants that join in the fun.
Ugly Sweater Contest Winners
Mike Plante, Mary Sagona, Belita Persichini and Angie Diamond.
Victorian Era Costume Contest Winners
Best Proper Lady: Joan Hemm, Nico Nagel and Robbie Zmuda.
Best Couple: Susan & Dewey Smith, Julian & Wanda Gothard, Vicki & Craig Barringer, and Jonas & Jaclyn Schrock.
Children’s Coloring Contest Winners
Kindergarten-First Grade: Norah Manley, Quin Sill & Ella Albrecht.
Second -Third Grade: Avery Lawson, Adeline Buckland, Nora Westling, and
Fourth-Fifth Grade: Bella Marquez, Raeann Palfy, Elise Vincent, and Kayla Lawson.
Sixth Grade: Akane Randall.