Torch-carrying cowboy is this year's button

It's not easy to combine the rustic ambience of a Colorado mountain town with the tradition and competitive drive of the Olympic games, but Melissa Walsh found a way.

Walsh, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, created the winning design for this year's Winter Carnival button by depicting a cowboy riding bareback on a grinning horse while carrying a lighted Olympic torch.
Katy Tirone, special events director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which hosts the Winter Carnival and makes the buttons, said Walsh's design was the best of 14 submissions she received from high school art students.

"We thought the artwork was just great," Tirone said. "It tied in with the (carnival) theme and the Western heritage of the town."

The theme of this year's carnival is "Steamboat's Own Winter Games."

Tirone said the buttons are required for admission to most carnival events, including street events, the pancake breakfast and the Night Extravaganza on Feb. 11.

"We ask that everyone show their support of the Winter Carnival and the Winter Sports Club," she said. "Even if they're not going to make it to all the events, we really appreciate it if people show their support by purchasing a button."

The buttons cost $7 and are sold at various locations throughout Steamboat, including the Winter Sports Club's main office, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and numerous local businesses.
Proceeds from button sales go toward offsetting the cost of putting on carnival events and to the Winter Sports Club.

"We always purchase 7,000 buttons, but we have never sold all of them," Tirone said. "Our goal is to sell more every year."

The colorful buttons are designed each year by a Steamboat Springs High School art student in a tradition that began in 1967 as a substitute to the traditional admission passes previously used to gain entrance to Winter Carnival events.
Chula Walker-Griffith, who teaches art and drama at the high school, said she "loved the clarity" of Walsh's design and is impressed with the variety of her talent.

"Melissa was very pro-active in wanting to do the design," Walker-Griffith said. "She's very strong in drawing and painting, and seeing that button I know that she is also great in graphic design."

Although this is Walker-Griffith's first year teaching art at the high school, she already is very familiar with the annual button contest.

"I did a few designs myself," Walker-Griffith, who graduated from the high school in 1993, said with a laugh. "But I never got chosen."

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