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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Florence City Officials Don't Want Gitmo Detainees At Supermax

The CBS Channel 4 (Denver) cameras were in Florence today. And tonight a news story was run on that channel. It can be viewed at:

I would not have known that the Supermax/Gitmo controversy was being covered again, except that I was working in a ye olde antique store and spotted a man outside. He was walking literally in the road, seemingly talking to himself, complete with hand gestures.

Even though Florence is a great and friendly burg--I've seen this type of activity before. My first thought was--poor guy. My second thought was: It's a news reporter. But I saw no news camera or cameraman initially. So I stepped outside to see what was happening. It turns out the camera was at ground level at first.

I got a glimpse of his jacket and saw it was Channel 4 in Denver--but later checked our more local Colorado Springs stations and didn't see any Gitmo coverage around Florence. Then I went online and viewed the Channel 4 story. It seems the city officials interviewed, mayor Keith Ore, and city manager, Mike Patterson, are both opposed. As were local residents that were interviewed.

I recall we had local (and not-so-local) cameras in Florence last Oct. on the Gitmo subject. In fact, I mentioned it on this blog. One of our local antique dealers, who is a colorful character and owner of Florence Antiques, Larry Nelson, was featured on the Denver FOX channel. Nelson gave his opinion on Gitmo, but also used the opportunity to promote not only his shop--but Florence, as the antiques capital of Colorado.

You can read my blog post, Who Says GITMO & Antiques Can't Be Funny? here:

No, I don't think GITMO is a funny subject. I just found it amusing that Nelson turned it into a promotional opportunity for this fair burg and that a Denver FOX station did a good job of balancing the town's quaint antiques reputation with a serious subject. And I occasionally run blog posts with a theme of: Who Says Antiques Can't Be Fun?
                                                     Florence, Colorado's Main St.
Today's Channel 4 story just stuck to the GITMO angle. We did see a glimpse of Wood Grain On Main and Barn & Barrel--two antiques stores-- and a few shots of the main street showing the general atmosphere of our shops and eateries.

Last October, right after the GITMO stories ran, not just in Denver, but in the Colorado Springs area--I noticed an increase in people coming through town. Of course, local people are delighted to welcome visitors here. We are the antiques capital of Colorado. Officially. We also have art galleries and other unique businesses.

I'd prefer to see the town know for that, more than the semi-looming threat of housing more terrorists at Supermax. But that's just me. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rialto Theater In Florence, Colorado: Watch The Production of a Kickstarter Film

The Rialto Theater was built in 1923 as an opera house on Florence, Colorado's Main St. This Sunday, anyone can be part of watching a professional team film a promotion video that will be used to raise money on Kickstarter to restore the town's treasure.

A portion of Main St. will be closed Sunday, Feb. 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. as a crew films. People from Fremont County or anywhere for that matter have been invited, via a series of radio ads, to view the filming.

The Rialto is currently under restoration and it is hoped the theater will be open within a few years, or sooner if the money is raised.

I know I'll be there watching the filming. I've heard a few people are planning on being in period costumes--but it isn't a requirement to watch the filming.

For those wanting more information on some of the history of this cultural treasure and current efforts to revive the Rialto to her former glory, there was an excellent article in the Pueblo Chieftain last year. Go to:

Remember, Feb. 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. is a fun and free way to see a little bit of Rialto history being made. See you there! Or should I say: twenty-three skidoo! Or should I really say: 1923 skidoo.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Steampunk & Wine Festival: Florence, CO

Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado and the town's many shops and galleries are stocked year-round with all the makings of steampunk, Victoriana and industrial fashions, home decor, jewelry and gifts. Florence could be well on its way to becoming the unofficial steampunk capital of Colorado, with not only a fantastic steampunk festival gearing up for April 9 and 10--but all the shops that have carried steampunk items for years.

And here's  the latest press release for Escape In Time To Steampunk And Wine Festival in Florence, Colorado--sent to me from the festival organizer.

Escape in Time to Steampunk and Wine” Festival taking place in Florence, Colorado on April 9th -10th, 2016 is gearing up. The Historic Rialto Theater will serve as the venue for this year’s fundraiser, along with vendors and entertainers on Santa Fe Street north and south of Main Street.

The romantic, Victorian, industrial Steampunk movement is seeping into fashion, interior design and mainstream media. Steampunk with its love of the old, reworked and imperfect could have no better backdrop than Florence. Organizers want to use this movement to gather resources for the historic Rialto Theater (1923 opera house), to help match grant funds to help with the renovation. Inviting the entire community to participate in this event is a positive way to promote Florence, the goal to provide the ultimate experience that will show how Steampunk is fun, cool and a mash-up of visual styles that has great appeal to all ages.

 An exciting addition to our list of sponsors is the Royal Gorge Bridge, who is helping to ‘bridge the gap’ between Florence and the Royal Gorge by providing a bus trip for the Steampunk patrons to the Bridge on both Saturday and Sunday mornings with enough time for photos. The cost is only $10.00.

 The Gold Canyon Gunfighters are returning from last year as well as local musicians, Bobby Dean and the Frost Mountain Clan. A blue grass sensation, Silver Cliff will be on hand Saturday afternoon. The Midnight Sun, who brought down the house last year, will once again entertain at The Steampunk Ball on Saturday night, and Sunday at Noon.

 There will be a costume contest, burlesque show, and a silent auction during intermission at the Ball. A new event this year will be a steampunk talent show. Auditions will begin on Feb 27 at the Bell Tower from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a newly invented steampunk instrument, a redesigned instrument and any other steampunk talent you may have to offer. Creativity and fun is what we are looking for. Once contestants finish the audition they will be part of the show where judging for winning the contest will take place. Those who can’t make the first audition can come to the Florence High School on March 12 from 1:00 PM to 5: PM.

 Costume contests and a fashion show will also be part of the activities, along with contests and activities for the kids. With the fashion show mainly for the ladies, we must include our men with a mustache and beard contest. The last event on Sunday will be the Steampunk Pet Contest.

 The wine will be unique this year, graced with our own label along with other spirits and wines, available at the Rialto, of course these are all for the cause with your donation. Admission for Steampunk activities is $10 for adults and $5 for students. For an extra $5 the ball is included (the price is $10 for the ball alone). Children under 5 will be free. Minors are welcome at the ball with adult supervision however all under age 21 will be required to leave before 10:00 PM.

 Advance tickets are now available for a discount at Spirit Riders Western Emporium in Florence. Stop in and discuss what steampunk is all about! You can get ideas of costumes there and at many of the shops in town (hats, goggles, corsets, boots, jewelry, vintage clothes, etc.), so check out all the antique and other shops in Florence as they are all getting ready for the event. The excitement generated by this event is overwhelming and the preparation of getting costumes is half the fun of it! You ladies must try on a corset… they are way more comfortable than you think! For information please email or call Barb @ 719-431-3592.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Confessions Of An Antiques Store Worker: There's No Place Like Florence, Colorado

True story. Oh, wait that's the name of this blog. But true story. I was in Pueblo this weekend, browsing in the antiques district on Union.

Wait, before you call me a traitor to Florence the antiques capital of Colorado--where I live and work--let me explain.

This is only the second time  I've been to the antiques district in Pueblo in my entire life. The last time, I only had time to visit one store--and this time, browsed three of them. I was suitably impressed and even bought a few things. But deep in my heart, I was thinking I liked Florence, and not just because I work there and know a few antiques dealers.

I had a $5 vintage nut chopper in my mitts and was in the basement section of one of the antiques malls in Pueblo and getting ready to go upstairs and checkout, when I heard a voice.

"Ma'am? Are there any other places in southern Colorado like this?"

I turned around to see a middle-aged man with a sincere face. "I just love antiques and historical buildings. Are there more places like this? I am new to the area."

I was just ready to open my mouth and say," Well, let me tell you about this little town about 30 miles up the road called Florence."

But he continued," I know about Florence. I was just there. And wow--that town is, well... Just filled with historic buildings and antiques."

"Hmm," I replied," I just happen to live there and work in an antiques mall there. You do know Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado?"

He did not know that. But what he told me was the he had just relocated to Pueblo a few months ago from Washington State, where is HIS opinion there was no culture. At least in the section of the state he came from. He was wowed, delighted and enchanted by Pueblo's district and the beauty and uniqueness of Florence.

He said of Florence," Why it's so amazing. I've never seen so many antiques stores. You can stroll there and then just walk a few feet and be eating at Quincy's."

For those who don't know--Quincy's is a semi-new addition to Florence's Main St. It is almost always packed--and that is no wonder. The food is great and the prices are fantastic. And it's located in a historic building and decorated to warm the hearts of anyone who loves history and antiques.

This recent Pueblo transplant almost felt like he had dropped into an alternate universe filled with culture, historic buildings, beauty and antiques everywhere. He was eager to explore southern Colorado further.

I told him that Walsenburg was a fairly good bet with an antiques mall and few good funky shops and historic buildings. But I told him he already had really hit the goldmine with Pueblo's antiques district and discovering Florence. He agreed. He walked off thanking me profusely and with rather with a dazed and happy look on his face.

I guess us locals are rather used to all the culture and history and beauty in southern Colorado. It was fascinating to run into a stranger and newcomer who reminded me just how special southern Colorado is.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Florence--The Unofficial Steampunk Capital Of Colorado

Florence is the official antiques capital of Colorado. And last year, I suggested that Florence should be the unofficial steampunk capital of Colorado.

Why? I was hoping you would ask!

A kicking steampunk festival is why.

But this year promises to even be better (if that's possible) as the town gears up for the 2nd annual Escape In Time To Steampunk And Wine Festival.

There will a new event--a steampunk talent show. Check out a previous blog post for information on that. And do a search on this blog for steampunk and you'll find many posts from last year that highlighted just a snippet of what folks were up to as they prepared for the festival.

This year, I'll be around town peeking into shops and seeing how people are getting creative in celebrating all things steampunk and sharing some of the fun.

This family-friendly event is not only for fun and celebration of a subculture that is gaining in popularity--it is a fundraiser for Florence's 1923 opera house, the Rialto Theater that is currently under renovation.

Last year was the first festival and about 1,500 people showed up. At least double that number are expected this year--but I'm thinking some of the new events and increased publicity should draw even more festival goers.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Politically Incorrect Antique or Collectible: BABY RUTH

In the days of un-supersizing, banning huge sugary soft drinks, cleaning up school lunch menus and making sugar the white devil--I have my favorite (to date) politically incorrect antique.

I love this tin Baby Ruth holder. OK, I love Baby Ruths and have been known to slam a few down my cakehole now and then.

I'm still in tears (and sugar shock) that I was not from the generation where I could get my sugar high for a nickle.

But what makes me laugh--after I pick out the delicious chewy caramel and CRISP nuts out of my teeth--are the mixed messages here.

After lunch, it's a tasty dessert. BUT: Two make a complete lunch. Well, of course two would make a complete lunch, because it's balanced food!

Now, I know the true secret of America's rise as a leading industrial nation. Now I know how all those skyscrapers got built. It was that complete lunch that everyone thought was balanced food and wonderful energy.

Darn, you science and nutrition experts! I want to return to the days where I could eat two Baby Ruths for lunch and then go for the mixed message of having one after lunch for a tasty dessert--which in actuality would allow me THREE Baby Ruths for my lunch.

Politically Incorrect Antiques: Who Says Antiques Can't Be Funny & Fun?

Who says antiques can't be fun and funny? You won't hear that from me.

I am NOT an antiques expert--but I like to play one on the internet. Actually I spent about 15 years selling antiques, collectibles and plain junk on the internet, so I never got to meet any of my customers in person.

So, when we moved to Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado, I began working in some of the antiques stores. And antiques dealers are a humorous lot--which I never realized.

We sit around laughing and joking about our antiques, other people's antiques and the paradox that is attempting to know what people want to buy. The day one decides that a pile of stuff that has been sitting on one's booth is sheer junk, a mistake, a lapse in judgement and needs to be carted off--is usually the day someone comes in and falls in love with it and buys it all.

And usually when you've found a piece that you think is so fine, so exquisite and magnificent--is the day you overhear someone chuckling that it is weird.

But here's what you often find antiques dealers chuckling over the most--politically incorrect antiques. I personally chuckle the most over clown collectibles and antiques and have made outrageous fun of those oddities in previous blog posts.

So, in honor of having fun in the antiques trade, occasionally I'll highlight a politically incorrect antique or collectible. Just to be clear--some of these antiques or collectibles, I'd have in my own home. I'm not making fun of the dealers or the items necessarily--just how times have changed with modern science and knowledge and how some items are hopelessly hysterical and amusing when viewed through the lens of modern times.(I have to say that because I don't want to be politically incorrect and offend anyone).  And it's most often customers that will come in and laughingly comment on what fun it is.

So, what antique or collectible cracks you up the most?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lip-smacking BBQ in Florence, Colorado--STEELE SMOKIN

If you see a roly-poly woman eating her way across Colorado--just kindly step out her way. But be sure and follow her way into whatever eatery she discovered, because it's sure to be good.

Florence, Colorado is the undisputed antiques capital of Colorado. But it is also turning into a culinary destination. One of Florence's newest eateries is Steele Smokin at 401 East Main St. It is located in the former location of Chaps.

Steele Smokin has a pretty extensive menu, so even though I tried (on two visits) to try everything--I wasn't able. But it's going to be a pleasure to try everything eventually.

The BBQ restaurant has a good-sized dining room and bar, but I got takeout.

This is the smoked chicken quarter ($8.99) which comes with two sides. Being carb-conscious (not) I chose the mac and cheese and baked beans. Delicious. And the cornbread? Don't believe I've ever tasted better.

The smoked chicken was tender and smoky. Patrons get a choice of four bbq sauces. I tried them all and settled on the sweet and smoky one as my favorite.

On a previous visit I tried the pulled pork, which was Carolina-style and quite succulent.

Yes, that's some coleslaw. Quite fresh and tasty. I had the potato salad last visit. Also pretty good.

But the truth? The meats are so delicious, succulent, tender and smoky at Steele, that I really only have eyes for them and the cornbread. Pictured above is the two-meat platter of ribs and brisket ($12.99). One can get a three-meat platter or a four-meat platter But really, I do try and have some restraint.

The ribs are St. Louis cut spare ribs with a Memphis inspired rub. Yes, I died and went to heaven on a two-state tour.

But the real money shot, in my opinion is the brisket. It's Texas-style and slow-smoked for hours. I got it twice, it was so good.

But of course I haven't tried the smoked meatloaf or sausage yet. So it's too early in the game to say that the brisket and I will meet every time I set a pudgy foot into Steele's. But the brisket is so out of this world, it will be hard to try anything else.

Steele Smokin also serves burgers and sandwiches, including a southern Colorado favorite--the Slopper.

The phone number at Steele Smokin is 719-784-7500. Takeout orders are quick. From the phone call to pickup time is usually under 20 minutes.

Sunset In Florence, The Antiques Capital Of Colorado

How did the sun set in your neck of the woods? This how it set in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.

It painted the sky in layers. And it was the perfect end to a balmy spring evening. Wait, it's still winter in Colorado!

I don't tell many people this--but we live in the Banana Belt of Colorado. It was in the 60s today and is still balmy out.

This is our secret, but often when it snowing inches down the road about 32 miles in Colorado Springs, we might have a stray flake or nothing. Since we moved here, our snow shovel has seen little use.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Pizza Place In Florence, CO

It's a tough job--but somebody has to do it. Eating my way across Colorado, this time landed me at a new pizza place in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado.

If Florence isn't careful, the town will have to change its moniker to: the antiques and culinary capital of Colorado. For a small town, Florence is racking up some impressive selections of food.

Papa's is located at 132 W. Main St. in the building that used to house the popular Main St. Grille.

Papa's will open its main dining room in about a month, but late last week opened a walk-up window where one can order a whole pizza pie or just a slice.

Currently the offerings include pizza, ice cream, ice cream floats and soda, but the menu will be expanding soon.

Service at the walk-up window is quick and friendly. We received our steaming hot pie in under 15 minutes and as a bonus, we got a free dessert, created by the Itty Bitty Bakery right across the street. Nice touch!

Papa's walk-up window is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number is 719-784-7888.