Rock Ledge Ranch season-opening day June 4

       The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site will open for its 2011 summer season Saturday, June 4 with the annual shearing of its 10 sheep, a sheepdog herding show and wool-working demonstrations by the Pikes Peak Weavers Guild.
       The season will last through Aug. 13, during which the ranch at 30th Street and Gateway Road will be open to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special events are also scheduled in that span, including the Family Fourth celebration of Independence Day July 4 and the Fiddles, Vittles & Vino bluegrass festival featuring four live bands July 31.
       Starting Aug. 4 and continuing through Aug. 27 will be the second year of “Shakespeare at the Ranch.” The UCCS-based Theatreworks troupe will present “The Merchant of Venice” in a tent in the hayfield near the Rock Ledge House.
       Some other special events at the ranch are scheduled in September: the first-time Chile Chili Festival (Sept. 3), as well as the annual Vintage Base Ball Game (Sept. 5), Holly Berry Folk Art Festival (Sept. 16-18) and Garden of the Gods Powwow (Sept. 24).
       Also new for ranch visitors this season will be an American Indian exhibit at the Carriage House, titled “When the Land Was Sacred” (through Dec. 31); and changes to Rock Ledge's General Store, featuring period items sewn by ranch volunteers from American-made fabric.
       With the city-owned ranch in its second year receiving city allocations that are about a third of what they were five years ago, admission prices have been raised for the summer season (except that children 5 and under still get in free). Last year the paid rates were $6 for adults, $4 for ages 13-18 and 55-and-up, and $2 for ages 6-12. This year the rates will be $8 for adults, $5 for ages 55-and-up and $4 for ages 6-17.
       According to ranch manager Andy Morris, another fee-hike reason was to have prices that are competitive with comparable living history sites around the country. “We are still considered on the low end of that scale,” he said. “Of course, buying a membership to the Living History Association is always the best value in town!”
       Separate admission rates will apply to certain special annual events - Fiddles & Vittles, the Folk Art Festival , Shakespeare and the EcoFest (Aug. 27).
       For regular summer-season admission to the ranch, same-day tickets are available on the days it's open at the hut by the parking lot off Gateway Road.
       Admission also allows access to the entire Old West-styled working ranch and its ongoing offerings, including the American Indian Area, Galloway Homestead, blacksmith shop, Rock Ledge House and Orchard House.

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