SOUTH FORK — From serious challenges to seriously good fun, South Fork had a full calendar throughout 2018. New businesses opened, new blood filled leadership positions and the town will have new fun events in 2019 because promoters recognize the successful races, concerts and festivals in South Fork.
Peacock Saloon opened in the Peacock Meadows RV Park in South Fork right before New Year’s Eve a year ago.
An electrical issue sparked a fire at Outdoor Depot in South Fork on Jan. 10, sparking community support and facility improvements on top of restoring the east building.
Del Norte High School junior Natalie Benavides won the 147-pound division at the 2018 Girls State Championship on Feb. 3. In May, Benavides played stout defense for the Tigers soccer team, making a key tackle in the final minute of regulation to help send the state quarterfinal game into overtime at Fountain Valley High School. For football season, Benevides played defense and special teams.
In February, Police Chief Don McDonald reported yielding 17–22 pounds of prescription drugs in a drug take-back program for proper disposal.
In early March, the Creede Miners boys basketball team finished fourth in the Colorado 1A bracket. The Del Norte High School boys and girls basketball teams stormed into 2A regionals with strong victories on day one, followed by tournament-ending losses.
Residents learn details about the Del Norte School District construction project in March, followed by ground-breaking work in May and continued activity despite losing more than $100,000 worth of materials and equipment to theft in early December.
In mid-March, the Wolf Creek Ski Area became an all-solar facility, the only ski area completely powered by the sun. Working with the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, Wolf Creek CEO and Manager Davey Pitcher now runs the entire operation with power from the Penitente Solar Project on the Valley floor.
The Rio Grande National Forest Divide Ranger District was named “District of the Year” in March.
A proposed dog-breeding facility received public scrutiny during the Rio Grande County Commissioners meeting in March, followed by more participation during the meeting on April 11 when commissioners passed a conditional use permit for the Mullett Family dog-breeding center east of Monte Vista. The motion limited no more than 10 breeding females at a given time.
New, renewed trustees bolstered the South Fork Town Board on April 24, including Mayor Rodney Reed, re-elected Trustee Sarah Stephens, and new trustees Tyler Schmidt, Jim Patterson and Michele Cruse.
Garden Walk of South Fork hosted an open house on May 7 to showcase the renovated complex.
Firefighting crews reached 80-percent containment of the Park Creek Fire over Memorial Day weekend.
Hope Tonso became the new finance manager for South Fork. Tonso moved from Alamosa four years ago to buy a cabin with her husband. A graduate of Adams State University, Tonso handled finances for Southway Construction Company in Alamosa for 25 years.
In July, Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas signed a draft record decision for road access for the Village at Wolf Creek. In mid-December, a Federal Appeals Court dismissed an attempt from Village at Wolf Creek developers to reinstate a land exchange deal rejected by a federal judge in 2017.
Starting with a free concert by the Noseeums from New Mexico, Logger Days drew more than 1,500 people to see forestry skill competitions and more than 40 vendors at the South Fork Community Center.
More than 1,000 eager listeners converged in South Fork for the first week in August to enjoy the 13th Annual Rhythms on the Rio. Sponsored by the South Fork Music Association, this year’s edition featured national acts and, new this year, three huge dream catchers. Festival-goers took the opportunity to write their dreams on slips of paper and add them to the dreamcatchers.
In August, dirt bike riders zig-zagged hundreds of miles around South Fork during the Third Annual Shady Burro Enduro while fungus-hunters searched the area during the South Fork Mushroom Foray.
In late September, mountain bikers raced along the single-track course at the Sol Mountain Hill Climb on the Sol Mountain Farm.
The 4th Annual 12 Hours of Penitence mountain bike race challenged riders at Penitente Canyon Oct. 11–14.
The Del Norte High School volleyball team qualified for the state tournament with a strong season. The Tigers beat teams from Byers and Meeker but fell to the Limon Badgers.
The Second Annual South Fork Yuletide Extravaganza drew a huge crowd for Christmas caroling, hot chili, a roaring bonfire and an elaborate holiday lighting display on Nov. 23. The event kicked off with chili from the Friends of South Fork.
A little before midnight after the town celebration on Nov. 23, the South Fork Police Department and South Fork Fire Rescue responded to a vehicle rollover accident on Highway 160, quickly supported by the Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol. Estimated to be traveling 95 mph at mile post 186, the single vehicle rolled and sent its two 24-year-old occupants to Rio Grande Hospital in Del Norte.
Christmas shoppers at the Rio Grande Golf Club & Resort enjoyed two days of Winterfest, and craft-makers chowed chili with Santa to wrap up the celebration at the South Fork Community Center on Dec. 8.
Tiny Timbers coffee bistro opened in east South Fork on Dec. 14. The grab-and-go shop next at the intersection of Del Norte Peak Road and Highway 160 is hard to miss with four tiny homes ready for seasonal rental starting in May 2019.
The first of seven fun races at Wolf Creek Ski Area drew competitors to the gates on Dec. 15.
Looking ahead as 2019 evolves, South Fork will host its first sled dog race at the Rio Grande Golf Club & Resort on Feb. 16–17. Presented by the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club and the town, the event will include dogs pulling sleds, skiers pulled by dogs (skijoring), dogs leading racers on bikes (Bikejor) and junior races.