Visiting the Bar D Chuckwagon is a Western experience through and through. For 50 years, the dinner theater has entertained more than 2 million people with cowboy tunes, rube humor and down home food. Over the years, Bar D has added a mini train, a fake mine, a shooting gallery and wagon rides.
As Bar D celebrates another anniversary this year, it’s also reckoning with the impact of the 416 Fire, which torched nearly 55,000 acres and devastated tourism businesses in Durango. While hotspots such as the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad have reopened after monsoon rains dampened the wildfire, the chuckwagon’s numbers are still down this year. Gary Cook, a musician with the Bar D Wranglers for three decades, talked to Colorado Matters about staying relevant in the era of smartphones and foodie culture.