In the Grand County of 1911, skiing was considered a necessary mode of transport rather than an activity to be enjoyed. Then, intrepid Norwegians such as Carl Howelson arrived in Middle Park and introduced the thrills and joys of skiing. Howelson had a special passion for ski jumping having spent years thrilling audiences with the Barnum & Bailey Circus. He taught locals such as Horace Button the skill of jumping and the fun of skiing.
Then the first winter carnival west of the Mississippi River was held in Hot Sulphur Springs on December 30, 1911 followed by a more expansive celebration on February 10-12, 1912. According to the Middle Park Times, “Never before in the history of the Territory and State of Colorado has such an event even been contemplated, much less held!” In addition to the thrilling jumping competitions staged by Howelson, Angell Schmidt of Denver, and Gunnar Dahles of Williams Fork (Grand County); there were skating races, tobogganing events and a Grand Ball. Hot Sulphur Springs continued holding Winter Carnivals annually, drawing thousands of people to the area, until World War II. These early Winter Carnivals are credited with sparking what later became the modern ski industry for which Colorado has a world-wide reputation.
The Grand Winter Sports Carnival is a six week celebration to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1911/1912 Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado winter carnivals and the birth of the ski industry in the west. Grand Winter Sports Carnival events are scheduled from Friday, December 30, 2011 through Saturday, February 11, 2012.