Ponderosa saddles up for possibly last time
INCLINE VILLAGE – As the Ponderosa Ranch approaches its 2004 opening on April 17, ranch President David Geddes thinks this could be the best summer ever at the 36-year-old attraction.
Geddes, who is overseeing the cleanup and refurbishing of the ranch with Ponderosa Vice President Royce Anderson, is putting aside thoughts of the impending sale of the property and concentrating on the business at hand.
“We’re going to approach this year like we’ll be here for the next five,” Geddes said. “My goal is to make the ranch look the best that it has ever.”
Geddes said that there will be great entertainment and that the advertising campaign is under way.
“We’re hiring the help and it’s business as usual,” Geddes said.
While the usual attractions will include Old West gunfights, the haywagon breakfast, pony rides, gold panning, a climbing wall, Hoss’ Mystery Mine and the Moonshine Shooting Gallery, Geddes said that the ranch will focus a lot more on events than they have in the past.
“This year we’ll participate in the Jazz Festival and we’ve also planned a western film festival for this summer,” he said.
The ranch annually draws over a quarter of a million people, but Geddes thinks that with the news of a possible sale, this could be the biggest season in the ranch’s history.
“So many people come back every year, and although nothing’s settled on any deal yet, the news could cause people to think this might be the last season,” Geddes said. “But if everything goes the way we hope it will, the area will have the Ponderosa to come to year after year.”
Anderson, whose father, Bill, built the ranch and modeled it after the television show “Bonanza,” was raised on the property and said that the ranch will always be a great asset to the community. However, he’s a little nostalgic about the possible change.
“Certainly I’m a little more filled with emotion about this coming season,” Anderson said. “I was raised here and have a lot of memories. But I really feel that the change will benefit the area immensely.”
Meanwhile, the dozen or so workers scurry about replacing siding on the old town, repainting the church and re-finishing the ranch house.
There’s also a seven-acre parking lot to re-stripe and the interior of the Cartwright abode to straighten up.
“It’s really amazing to watch it all come together,” Geddes said. “If you see it in two weeks you won’t recognize it from how it looks now.
Although the ranch officially opens in two weeks, things really heat up after Memorial Day, Geddes said.
“That’s when we start the breakfast, which we’ve extended by a half-hour, so folks don’t have to get up so early,” he said.
As for the possibility that this could be the swan song for the ranch, as the world has come to know it, Geddes said, “Right now, our future is making sure that visitors to the ranch have a good time and come away with some good memories. That’s all we’re concerning ourselves with. Getting ready for a fun season.”