The Story Behind Colorado’s Frozen Dead Guy Days

Coffin Racing at Frozen Dead Guy Days | © CL.Baker / Flickr
Coffin Racing at Frozen Dead Guy Days | © CL.Baker / Flickr | Flickr
As true purveyors of the festival circuit can attest, it seems as though there is a festival for just about everything. But even the most hardcore of festival participants may be surprised to discover the festivities that happen every March in Nederland, Colorado. During this time, people break out the coffins and ice turkeys and toast a cold one in honor of Grandpa Bredo at Frozen Dead Guy Days.


It turns out that there is an actual history to this three-day death-themed shindig, and it all centers around a Norwegian guy named Bredo Morstoel, who, as luck would have it, didn’t visit the United States until after his death in 1989. It is at this point where things take a fascinating turn.

Bredo’s grandson, Trygve Bauge, had his grandpa shipped overseas and stored in a cryogenics facility until he put the finishing touches on his own hand-built cryogenics storage chamber, where he lived in Nederland with his mother. He believed that science would one day find a way to counteract aging and the body’s frailties and that his grandfather would be able to be reanimated.

Bredo’s body remained peacefully in a Tuff shed built to withstand all manner of natural disasters, packed with some 1,600 pounds of dry ice each month until his family was evicted and eventually sent back to Norway. The question then became, “What about Grandpa Bredo?”

After a slew of town hall meetings and some new legislation about keeping frozen bodies on private property was passed, Bredo was quite literally grandfathered in, and Bo Shaffer, now known as “the Ice Man,” was hired to play caretaker to the Frozen Dead Guy in the shed. Now for over 20 years, he and his team of volunteers go once a month to pack Bredo’s body with ice and keep him at a constant temperature of -60°F (-51°C). And so, a legend was born.

Frozen Dead Guy Days © CL.Baker / Flickr

Annual celebration

The already quirky Colorado mountain town embraced Bredo’s presence with open arms and created Frozen Dead Guy Days, which has launched into a three-day festival that draws in people from all over the world. The festival now features 30 live bands, as well as a whole slew of death- and ice-themed events, from coffin racing and frozen turkey bowling to the costumed polar plunge and frozen T-shirt contests.

The festival kicks off on a Friday night with the Blue Ball, a night of dancing and live entertainment. The weekend is chock-full of events, and three-day passes are available. There’s plenty of food, beer, and fun for everyone involved.

Frozen Dead Guy Days © CL. Baker / Flickr