Marlboro Man, Goodnight legacy lead Colorado State Fair’s flagship parade

By Sarah Grasmick And Anthony A. Mestas The Pueblo Chieftain

Published: August 25, 2016

When employees from Marlboro found out people could view Pikes Peak from the expansive T-Cross Ranch in Black Forest, they knew they wanted to use the scenic place for a photo shoot. Rancher Bob Norris, who is the 2016 honorary Colorado State Fair parade marshal, allowed them onto his property, not realizing he would soon be featured on dozens of print and television advertisements.

The parade’s theme is “Festival of Colors” and will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. The Colorado State Fair Parade is one of the oldest parades in Colorado and is coordinated by the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce and its State Fair Parade Committee.

The parade officially begins at B Street and Union Avenue, down Union Avenue to City Center Drive, north up Main Street to Eighth Street where it concludes.

Photographers who worked for Marlboro planned on taking photos of models they hired, but when they spotted Norris, the cigarette company decided to make him the first Marlboro man in the early 1960s.

“They wanted a real cowboy with clothes that were used for ranching,” said Norris, who lives in Colorado Springs. “I had interesting and memorable experiences as the Marlboro Man, and could tell stories for days.”

He said his 12-year career ended when his children asked him why he wanted to be featured in a campaign that promoted unhealthy behavior.

“I told them, ‘I can answer your question with one word: greed,’ ’’ said Norris, now 87. “I quit after I did one more ad.”

Norris, originally from Illinois, isn’t letting his age halt his ranching, although he is now receiving help from family.

He owns five ranches in Colorado that span a total of 120,000 acres.

Norris said he is looking forward to the parade.

“I’m sure there are more people who deserve being the honorary grand marshal more than I do, but I’m honored,” he said, “I love the Fair.”

The late Charles Goodnight, one of the first pioneers of cattle ranching in Southern Colorado, is the grand marshal of the parade. He will be represented by the group that’s in the process of bringing a barn he built back to life.

“We are very proud and honored to be the (representatives of the) grand marshal because it says a lot about what we’ve done as a committee,” said Laurel Campbell, president of the Goodnight Barn Restoration Committee.

Instead of riding in a convertible, members of the nonprofit organization will be transported by a trailer with a chuck wagon.

“The chuck wagon will have huge pictures of Charles so people will know what he looked like,” Campbell said.

The cattleman, who was originally from Texas, settled near Pueblo in the late 1860s and built the Rock Canyon Ranch, where he constructed the Goodnight Barn in 1870. He died in 1929. The barn, which has a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, can be seen on Colorado 96 west of the city limits.

“We are restoring the barn back to what it was in 1870, which is just a horse and carriage barn. It will become an interpretive center for people to enjoy,” Campbell said. “Last October, we received a small grant which we used to purchase big support beams because it was starting to tip to the left. The next step will be stone masonry, which will hopefully happen this fall.”

The total cost of restoration is more than half a million dollars.

“We received a $200,000 state historic fund grant just last month, but we need to continue to fundraise,” Campbell said.

The president said she hopes the parade will help garner additional contributions.

While the parade marshals’ recognition represent icons of the area’s history, another entrant looks to the future.

Pueblo County officials and staff decorated several of the alternative fuel vehicles that will be featured in the parade.

This year, county employees are ditching the petroleum-fuel burning CNC work truck it has used in community parades for years and is instead featuring some of Pueblo County’s 12 alternative fuel vehicles.

Pueblo County has purchased 12 alternative fuel vehicles through a grant-matching opportunity through the Department of Local Affairs, since 2002.

The county has also installed two charging stations free to the public and brought the first compressed natural gas station to Southern Colorado.

For more information about the parade, visit pueblochamber.org or call 542-1704.

sgrasmick@chieftain.com

anthonym@ chieftain.com

(View the article at the Pueblo Chieftan here)

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