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RidgeGate Up Close

  • November 23, 2021
  • Jessica McCaa

Austrian Christmas and Colorado Gives Day on Horizon for Schweiger Ranch in December

The smell of schnitzel will soon be in the air at Schweiger Ranch as the Austrian Christmas & Christkindl Markt event in Lone Tree, CO returns for its 5th season on Saturday, December 4th from 11am – 5 pm. This free public event will require registration to enter, as well as for some activities. Participants will be treated to authentic Austrian food and music, a visit from Santa Claus and his real reindeer, horse-drawn carriage rides (currently sold out), artisan crafts at the on-site Christkindl Markt and a tree lighting ceremony.

You may be scratching your head wondering why an Austrian-themed event is taking place at a ranch nestled between the Bluffs in Lone Tree and Happy Canyon Creek. This 38-acre homestead was founded in 1874 by three Austrian brothers, John, Joseph, and Jacob Schweiger, who grew the ranch to 4,000 acres. In the 1950’s members of the family ultimately sold the land to a developer who fell upon hard times. In 1972, the land was sold again to RidgeGate Investments who leased the land to local ranchers. In the late 1990’s, however, Coventry Development Corporation began to create a vision for the master planned community, now known as RidgeGate.

As Coventry began the work to annex RidgeGate into the City of Lone Tree, the question of what to do with the ranch remained.

“While the City did not require any preservation of the historic buildings, Coventry decided early on that there was a great opportunity and potential in the former homestead,” said Keith Simon, Executive Vice President for Coventry Development Corporation. “We felt a great responsibility to find a way to restore the buildings and create a vision for what Schweiger Ranch could become.”

SchweigerRanch_public events_Lone Tree COCoventry approached Douglas County to designate Schweiger Ranch as a historic landmark. In 2004, historical landmark status was granted, and funding from the State Historical Fund became available for restoration projects. Over the next 10 years, over $1 million was invested in historic restoration work and in the fall of 2016, the ranch opened to the public for guided tours, campfire lectures, the Lone Tree Fall Festival, Austrian Christmas and Christkindl Markt, and more.

What’s Next for the Ranch?
Tall Tales Ranch Lone Tree CO
In 2019, the Schweiger Ranch Foundation announced its plans to provide four and a half acres to Tall Tales Ranch (TTR) for the building of a new residential village for 32 young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The “TTR Ranchers” will, in turn, become essential volunteers helping care for animals at Schweiger Ranch, host events and much more. The Tall Tales Ranch development will also be home to an event barn and coffee shop, employing ranch residents and open to the community for fitness classes, live concerts, movie nights, vocational training and more. The synergies between Tall Tales Ranch and Schweiger Ranch will be powerful, as both properties continue to develop distinct but complementary identities.

How Can YOU Help the Ranch?

SchweigerRanch_GivingVolunteers Needed
There are a variety of ways to volunteer at Schweiger Ranch. If you’d rather roll up your sleeves and help on site, the foundation can always use volunteers in the areas of animal care, greeters and house attendants, grounds and building maintenance, and special events. Individuals with a knack for history are always welcome to apply to be a tour guide or dress up and demonstrate ranch related skills like butter-churning, blacksmith, and other crafts.

Colorado Gives Day, December 7th
Schweiger Ranch is a 501(c)3 accepting tax deductible donations that help fund educational programs, ongoing maintenance, the preservation of its historic buildings and animal care. Saturday, December 7th is Colorado Gives Day, one of the largest one-day giving movements in the country. Every non-profit that receives a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of a $1 Million+ Incentive Fund, increasing the impact of every dollar donated.

Amazon Purchases on smile.amazon.com
You can also support the Schweiger Ranch Foundation through purchases made at smile.amazon.com. Simply select Schweiger Ranch Foundation as your “Charity” and a portion of your eligible purchases will be donated to the Foundation.

WHY Should You Help the Ranch?

The management and oversight of the ranch is a herculean effort undertaken by a mighty few. As Executive Director of the Schweiger Ranch Foundation, Elizabeth Matthews spoke to the daily challenges they face.

“Rattlesnakes, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats—and humans hopping the fence outside of business hours—these are all challenges, but most can be overcome with a little bit of teamwork, resourcefulness, problem solving and copious amounts of humor.”

Nevertheless, the payoff of preservation is evident to all ages.

“It’s been really interesting to show children how to make butter from cream in a hand-held butter churn,” said Keith Simon. “They usually ask, ‘Why didn’t they just go to the store and buy it?’ Then they try the butter they created on a homemade biscuit, and they are amazed by how much better it is.”

Matthews added,“Preserving our historic spaces provides opportunities to educate and inform others about what life was like without our modern conveniences like grocery stores or internet, while illustrating how people lived within their culture.”

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