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Medicine for what ails you

Strolling on the River Walk last week, we were struck by the large number of people enjoying the San Juan River in downtown Pagosa Springs. While surely some of the people in the water, riding tubes and rafts, and lounging on the banks, were local residents, it is a good bet that most were visitors to Pagosa Country. The river, with its whitewater features and the equipment and experiences provided by Pagosa’s rafting companies, has become a huge draw. When we think back as little as 10 years, few had any idea the San Juan would become the recreational amenity it has.

With the efforts of the Pagosa Quality Fishing Project (which holds a benefit auction and art sale July 9) the downtown stretch of the San Juan provides fishermen with a tremendous opportunity to indulge their passion.

The river experience is precisely the kind of attraction we need to maintain and improve in order to please our visitors and convince them to return.

What better way to understand the value of our tourism industry and of the Pagosa experience to tourists and locals alike than to dive into this coming weekend’s activities. This week and next will be two of the biggest tourist weeks of the year here, swinging as they do on the hinge of the weekend Fourth of July holiday. The town, as usual, will be packed as Pagosa Country provides everyone with the quintessential small town holiday celebration.

The action starts today and there is something for everyone over the course of four days. The Celebrate America event is set for tonight at the Ross Aragon Community Center and you can enjoy musical theatre at the Music Boosters’ production of “Annie.” You can go to the carnival at the athletic field at Town Park. The Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo, now in its 61st year, offers an authentic rodeo experience with performances Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The arts and crafts fair takes place in Town Park and Centennial Park. The Arts Council will hold a fund-raiser Saturday and Quilt Fest provides a tremendous exhibit Friday through Sunday.

The annual Rotary-sponsored parade makes its way through the downtown area Saturday, and on Sunday a community picnic at the high school starts an evening that ends with the fireworks display.

It is the quintessential small town holiday experience: a grand show, in a fantastic setting.

It is easy to get caught up in our problems, to be overwhelmed by the economic challenges that face us. The difficulties we face as a result of the recession are more than formidable, and effective plans to extract the community from their grip are difficult to formulate and implement. In short, there are too many reasons of late to be depressed, to become exasperated and throw up our hands.

This weekend gives us a clear look at the alternative. It provides us with an example of why we love this place — why we moved here, or why we stayed here. It shows us why people visit here and return. It is the best of Pagosa Country, compressed in a dense-pack display of the people, the values, the energy, the positive spirit that will ultimately win the day against the difficulties we face.

Do yourself a favor: if you’re frustrated, if you feel overwhelmed, if you are down in the dumps and unable to connect with the finer aspects of this place, if you catch yourself wondering why you are here and why you stay here, if you are asking if it is all worth while — head for downtown Pagosa Springs this weekend. Get yourself a strong dose of the medicine that’s good for what ails you. We can get back to our problems next week.

Karl Isberg