Special prizes: Valley children will have opportunity to spend time at nation’s top Dude Ranches

HARLINGEN — USA Today readers chose Cherokee Park Ranch in Colorado and Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Idaho as the top two dude ranches in the country.

Those will be where the winners of the RGV Children’s Arts Festival will have an opportunity to go next year.

“After I already had these two ranches under contract for vacation prizes in this year’s RGV Children’s Arts Festival, I wasn’t surprised to discover that USA Today readers ranked them as the top two dude ranches in the country,” said Carey Kinsolving, co-chair of the RGV Children’s Arts Festival.

This is the sixth consecutive year for the RGV Children’s Arts Festival.

Although only two children and their families will ride some of the most beautiful trails in the West next summer, many children will see their writing and artwork published in Kinsolving’s syndicated newspaper column, “Kids Talk About God,” and his online book, “Kids Color Me Bible Gospel of John.” Both can be viewed at KidsTalkAboutGod.org.

This past June, arts festival winners Brianna Benavides, 7, and Claire Bauer, 12, rode horses in the Rocky Mountains at 8,000 feet.

Benavides rode for a week at Coulter Lake Guest Ranch in Colorado and Bauer rode at Medicine Bow Lodge and Adventure Guest Ranch in Wyoming.

Bauer’s mother, Karen, said that every day Claire and her sister would look out their cabin windows to see when the Medicine Bow Lodge wranglers saddled their horses. “They could hardly wait for the next trail ride,” said Karen Bauer.

In two previous years, Bauer of Harlingen made the finals of the arts festival, but failed to win.

One of the questions Bauer answered and illustrated in her winning entry proved to be prophetic: “What can we learn from Jesus about God’s timing to make important decisions?”

Bauer’s answer illustrated her own persistence: “God shows us that we must be patient and wait for good things to come.”

Twenty Valley children will be chosen as finalists in 2018. They will be invited along with their families to attend an awards presentation on April 28, 2018, at the Art Village on Main Event Center.

Yoli Cantu of McAllen Stained Glass is scheduled to make fused-glass renderings of the two winners’ art that will be unveiled when the winners are announced.

Because of arts festival sponsors, there is no entry fee.

Gold Spur sponsors for this year’s arts festival include Burns Motors, La Copa Inn South Padre Island, Boggus Ford, BCFS Health and Human Services, Dairy Queen, DLC Pediatrics- Dr. Martin Garza, El Pato, Lone Star National Bank and Melba’s Dance School.

For arts festival guidelines and questions, please visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org/rgv. All children ages 5-12 who live or attend school in the Rio Grande Valley may enter. The deadline is Dec. 13.