Meet Crystal Harnden, the Crystal Cowgirl

Written by Penny Randell on .

It is by no means serendipitous that Crystal Lovell Harnden owns the Crystal Cowgirl here in Evergreen. She is the Crystal Cowgirl here in Evergreen.

Upon inquiring about her background, one will discover that she is – and always has been – a cowgirl through and through. Growing up in a nanoscale, rural farm town in southeast Kansas gave her plenty of time to dream about who and what she would be when she grew up. Influenced by her grandmother's expertise, Crystal began sewing early on; and by eight years of age, she knew she wanted to design clothes.

Winning the honor of best dressed in her high school came as no surprise, as she created her own patterns to produce an end product of glitz and glamour. She has always surrounded herself with Western wear accented with studs, embroidery and rhinestones. Take a stroll through her one-of-a-kind consignment store and gift shop in Lakepoint Center, and you will find all the glitter and current fashion – something she considers an art form.

Crystal describes herself as an over-achiever and caretaker of others, inspired by the love and guidance she received from the grandparents who raised her. It was said there was nothing to do out there in her desolate Midwest hometown of McCune (population less than 500) unless you drove to Pittsburg, the largest city in southeastern Kansas, 21 miles away. But, that’s not at all how it turned out for this headstrong cowgirl. Crystal admits that she pushed the envelope in almost every way while growing up.

Besides being a cheerleader, majorette, editor of the school newspaper and yearbook, member of the National Honor Society, FHA participant and quilter, she tested the limits with livestock, longing to move to a farm with cows and horses. Once on a dare at rodeo, she climbed aboard a Texas Longhorn steer while it stood steaming and pawing in the chute. No, they didn’t open the gate, but she still broke a thumb before the whole escapade came to an end. “I don’t see why not,” was her favorite slogan back then, and those same words have been on hand until this day.

Crystal’s stories are as diverse as they are entertaining. While still in grade school she begged her grandparents for a horse, promising that she wanted it more than anything else in the world. Because the family lived in town, it was an impossibility. Roy Rogers was her favorite superstar during this time in her life; and meeting him someday was a tall, continuous dream. She decided to run away, find Roy and have him buy her the horse. Of course her grandparents drove around town, finding her lost, frightened and ready to come home. However, a couple years later they acquiesced and surprised her with a dandy Quarter Horse, which they boarded on a nearby farm so Crystal could see her every day. It was the horse that came to find Crystal though, jumping the wire fence and sprinting to school just in time to greet her for the walk home.

When this unyielding woman was a mere 17 years old she and three other girls collectively made the bold decision to travel east, three days by car, to attend the famed Woodstock festival in New York. Knowing that none of the parents or guardians would sanction such an endeavor, the four girls simply left notes stating where they had gone and when they would return. Crystal casts a radiant smile when she speaks of what the affair meant and how it changed her life.

After three full days of tromping about amongst the masses listening to Joplin, Hendrix and other famed rock and rollers, they were engulfed with emotion and the fresh knowledge of expansive new horizons and newly viable options. Most striking among the four teens was their resistance to temptation. They went, saw, digested and returned … nothing more. Crystal confesses that the most intriguing aspect of the adventure for her was the clothes – or “costumes” as she puts it. Her imagination ran wild, and she was later able to spin off ideas from her mind’s eye to create similar costumes and extrapolations for the theatre department at her school.

Indeed, Crystal has been mesmerized all her life by fabric, embellished designs and color. At college she studied fashion design and eventually began creating costumes for theatre companies, dancers and performers of all kinds.

She married, but it didn’t last. Years later she met her second husband, the drummer for the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, a well-known band at the time. That marriage came to an end as well, but not without great benefit, for it was soon thereafter that she discovered her true self along with Colorado. She loaded her belongings, drove here alone and began a new life. During her 30-year residence in the big city of Denver, Crystal married again and became a mother of a boy and girl. Ultimately she gave up her Denver existence and moved to the Evergreen area to become a “mountain woman.”

Unrelenting passion for her art and an unabashed concern for the satisfaction of others led this free spirit to open her store here in Evergreen. Seemingly concentrated on each and every client, she strives to stock the best at the lowest prices possible. She delights in listening to customers rave about the sparkle and shine and particularly enjoys passing on tips such as “Did you know that pointed toe boots make your legs look longer?”

But there’s an even greater reason this authentic cowgirl continues to “hang her spurs” in Evergreen. Almost five years ago she was married to Pete, the man she describes as the love of her life, whom she met after 10 years of living alone. Their wedding has an unusual twist that she speaks of in the most vivid of terms. The couple met at the Little Bear and was married at the Little Bear. Their anniversary is the Fourth of July and you can bet there’s a celebration every year.

When speaking of such, Crystal eases her face to a profile, blushes and says, “I don’t see why not.”