Every year, the small town of Nederland celebrates death with one of the liveliest festivals in Colorado. The event, called Frozen Dead Guy Days, brings in people from all over to watch crazy competitions, listen to live music and have a good time. This year’s event brought in its biggest crowd in 16 years.
“This year we blew it out of the water,” said Amy MacDonald, the event’s coordinator. “Last year we had 20,000 people, and this is our biggest year ever. On top of last year, there’s another five thousand to 10 thousand.”
The festival is the town’s unique way of paying tribute to its oddest occupant, Grandpa Bredo Morstoel, whose corpse lays in a Tuff Shed covered in ice.
In 1993, Morstoel’s grandson, Trygve Bauge, had his grandfather’s cryogenically frozen body brought to
Nederland and placed in a shed behind their house. Bauge was deported and his mother took over responsibility of the body. She was later evicted for not having electricity or running water in her house. When she feared her eviction would cause the body to thaw, she told a local reporter about her father’s body, and the story created a sensation.
The result was the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festival, usually held the first weekend in March. The event is host to competitions such as a coffin race, a costumed polar plunge, snowy human foosball and a
frozen T-shirt contest. Some of the competitions have prizes, but most are just for fun.
Kevin Farnan and his wife came from Colorado Springs. Every year they get the VIP pass, which includes a bottomless cup of any beverage, entry in all three music tents and entry to the VIP catered lounge bus. This is their fourth year attending and they stay all day to watch every event.
“The Polar Plunge is just for fun, but I think I might do the frozen T-shirt next year,” Farnan said. “They wet them and then they’re folded and frozen. You gotta break them and then get into them.”
Saturday evening, all three tents had live music and were full to the point that organizers had to turn people away.
“We hire a lot of musicians,” MacDonald said. “A quarter of them are from Colorado.”
Bracelets are sold to patrons 21 and older for $10. They allow access to all three music tents.
Kevin Hammond stood in front of one tent dressed as a unicorn. He debated whether he would come back Sunday.
“I got the wristband so I might come up tomorrow,” he said. “I’m going to jump on the last bus to Boulder tonight.”
The festival encourages those in attendance who plan on drinking to drive safe. Coordinators teamed up
with Bus to Show to provide transportation. Sarah Gregorey and her boyfriend caught the Bus to Show from Boulder.
“We’re from Lincoln Nebraska, so it’s a little different here,” she said.
Gregorey met her boyfriend at the Frozen Dead Guy Days celebration last year.
“Our anniversary is on the 21st. We came for our anniversary thing. I know we picked a strange thing to do, but it was fun,” Gregorey said.