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March 14, 2009

Spring Break 2009: Nederland

Nederland, Colorado is famous for two annual events: The Nederland Music & Arts Festival, and Frozen Dead Guy Days. I was there for the latter. I came to Nederland with my college friend Taylor and her dad, who happens to be named Ned. Just for the record, Ned's name has nothing to do with the town of Nederland, but it did provide for some good jokes throughout the day.

Frozen Dead Guy Days (sometimes spelled 'Daze') has been celebrated in Nederland for seven years, basically to raise money to buy enough dry ice to keep a frozen dead guy frozen until next year's festival. The frozen dead guy is Bredo Morstol, a Norwegian man brought to Nederland by his grandson, who was soon after deported. To make a long story short, Nederlanders decided this was a cause they wanted to support, and would fund the effort to keep the body cryogenically frozen until he could be resuscitated in the future. The body is now kept in a shed, where it has been for ten years.

In celebration of Frozen Dead Guy Days, several activities take place, including coffin races, a look-a-like contest (the winner of which most closely resembles the frozen dead guy, of course), a pancake breakfast, a dance called "Grandpa's Blue Ball," a "polar plunge," where partakers swim in the freezing water, and a Rocky Mountain oyster eating contest. We came on Sunday, so we missed Saturday's festivities, which unfortunately meant missing the coffin races. I heard, though, that the winning team had a George Bush figure sitting in an American flag-wrapped coffin, pushed along by a team of Muslims. But Sunday means one thing to Frozen Dead Guy Days fanatics (and yes, they do exist)-- Rocky Mountain oyster eating contest.

The contest was held in the town's sole bar and grille, and was packed to the brim with people eager to see the contestants choke down buffalo balls. The star of the show was a blind man named Ray. Ray has won the look-a-like contest and the Rocky Mountain oyster eating contest for the majority of the years that the festival has been running. Ray, we were also informed by the event's MC (yes, there was an MC), is the town welder, whose welding business is called "Out of Sight." Ray also frequently visits Alaska, where he hunts, assists with airplane mechanics, and deep-sea dives. Don't forget that Ray is blind. Despite his record, Ray did not win the contest this year, and that felt like a shame.

I made a few unwise decisions during that trip to Nederland: going on Sunday instead of Saturday, ordering a tuna sandwich to eat as I spectated the eating contest. However, I did leave with a t-shirt that read in bold print on the front: "Frozen. Dead. In a shed." and Ned walked away with a bumper sticker that said "Neditate." So, all in all, I felt it was a positive experience, and if you ever find yourself around Nederland, I suggest you stop by and say hi to the frozen dead guy.


Anonymous said...

In looking at your picture with the Nederland Town Hall in the background, it struck me as somewhat funny that the town felt it necessary to post a sign saying "Entrance" over what seems very apparently to be a door.

Does one presume that there may also be an "Exit".

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