The winter festival season is just around the corner, but there’s one winter event that stands out above the rest.
It’s called Frozen Dead Guy Days and it’s been happening in the mountain town of Nederland, Colorado (just over half an hour west of Boulder, Colorado), since 2002. Now in its 19th year, the quirky festival is still offering some not-so-traditional winter activities — think polar plunges, human foosball, frozen T-shirt contests, and coffin races.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Frozen Dead Guy Days’ started when Bredo Morstoel, a public official from Norway died in 1989, according to the Denver 7. After his death, his grandson Trygve Bauge had his body sent to a San Francisco-based cryonics lab called Trans Time to be preserved (frozen) with the hope that science would one day cure his grandfather’s ailments, according to Atlas Obscura.
While Morstoel was being preserved, Bauge built a cryonics chamber inside a Tuff Shed at his home in Nederland, Colorado — outfitting it to withstand all kinds of natural and manmade disasters, according to Atlas Obscura. There, Bauge’s grandfather (and a few other frozen bodies that had been sent to Bauge’s “lab”) remained for a few years.
Unfortunately, in the mid-90s, Bauge was sent back to Norway and the frozen body was left with his mother in Colorado. The other bodies from Bauge’s fledgling cryonics lab were returned to their families. According to the Denver 7, Bauge now pays a man named Brad Wickham to deliver between 900 and 1,200 pounds of fresh dry ice every two weeks to cover his grandfather’s sarcophagus — which can still be found in Nederland.
Since Bauge left the country, the story of his grandfather and the failed cryonics facility have become part of the local history. And in 2002, the “Frozen Dead Guy” was suggested as a theme for the town’s winter festival (perhaps jokingly, at first), according to Atlas Obscura. Yet the theme stuck, and the story has become part of Colorado’s culture (along with others).
The “frigidly fun festival” is now one of Colorado’s most anticipated winter events. It usually takes place over the course of three days in March. During the festival’s most popular event, the coffin race, costume-clad teams show up with a decorated coffin. Each team must pay an entry fee of $75 and prizes are given out for the best time, best theme, and most notable screw up.
In addition to the coffin race and other events, the festival delivers plenty of live music and local food. The weekend starts with the annual Blue Ball, the festival’s opening party. Our suggestion: Be sure to put on a warm winter coat, because March in Colorado can be particularly cold and snowy.
The next Frozen Dead Guy Days festival will take place March 13-15, 2020.