A green attendee at a green event
Ryan Summerlin June 25, 2007
Like the lead singer of ’70s band Hot Chocolate crooned, “I believe in miracles.” Over the weekend, my roommate and I headed up to the San Juan Mountains for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. This was my inaugural trip to the town and my first time as a “festivarian,” as Telluride Bluegrass attendees are called.My only problem was I didn’t have a ticket.I went with the intention of buying a “miracle ticket,” because the show was “historically” sold out, according to my contact at Planet Bluegrass.Basically I was told it would take a miracle to get me in even VIPs were as hard-pressed to find a ticket as me.Nice that I was finally in the same company as a Very Important Person.I’m more of a Very Irrelevant Person.So Friday night, as my friends enjoyed the music inside, I sat on a rock, finger pointed up in the air and looking as dejected as the Soggy Bottom Boys singing “Man of Constant Sorrow.” I’m not much of a beggar, so imagine my embarrassment as I tried to make eye contact with ticket holders I hoped had an extra pass on hand.
But people were nice, giving me encouragement as they walked past me.”Don’t give up hope!” said one especially positive girl in a long cotton dress.Kendra came out to check on me, and seeing my inefficiency, took matters into her own hands.”You need a sign,” she said.She was right. Like an argument with the opposite sex, the finger pointing was getting me nowhere.With a piece of paper torn from her boyfriend Dane’s paycheck envelope, we fashioned a sign with ballpoint pen. We indicated that I had traveled a long way for the show. And lo and behold, it worked.See, there’s a reason I’m not in sales.I found a miracle in a newly made festivarian friend, obviously a believer in karma. And I discovered an event that was an inspiration in its music, people and respect for the environment.
A serious “Telluride Moment,” as the group I was with called it.In my past experience at festivals, concerts and community events which is a pretty lengthy list I’ve never seen something come together in such a way as Telluride Bluegrass.Then again, I’ve never been to the Bourbonnais Friendship Festival in Kankakee, Ill.That so screams “nice.”The Telluride Bluegrass festivarians were a happy bunch, coexisting magically like the Muppets and their neighbors on Sesame Street. Most everyone was smiling, laughing, dancing and just plain taking in the breath-taking San Juans surrounding the venue.I see why Oprah, Tom Cruise and Ralph Lauren like it there. And not just because they can afford it.I even heard the race to find a tarp spot in the early hours was a friendly affair. Each morning of the four-day festival, people camp out for hours to find the best spot to lay claim to for the day.Much like a mine owner from the area’s olden days.
Except I’m pretty sure festivarians don’t pay their employees $3 a day.On Saturday, Megan and Patrick from our group woke at 5 a.m. to grab the 250th spot in line. Once inside, they raced to find a spot as spirited music filled the air. Many of my friends will find this hard to believe I’m the type of morning person inspired by “The Exorcist” but I’m actually sad to have missed that part of the festival.Of course, I say that now.I was also extremely enlightened by the greenness of Telluride Bluegrass, which organizers claim is the “first-ever carbon neutral music festival.” With the help of Renewable Choice Energy, Planet Bluegrass purchased more than 4,000,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy to fuel amplifiers, stage lights and even travel time for festivarians.For waste, stations were set up all over the festival grounds for trash, recycling and compost (impressively, Mountain Fair does the same). Plates, forks and spoons were biodegradable I had fun bending the spoon while eating a mint chocolate chip ice cream sundae with an old friend formerly of Glenwood. And New Belgium Brewery served its new organic wheat beer called Mothership Wit, in reusable plastic cups that offered a $2 discount on each beer as they were refilled.And the music that’s enough for an entire column itself. I was so excited to see Alison Krauss and Union Station, not to mention Emmylou Harris, on stage I barely said a word as they played.Now that’s a miracle.April E. Clark hopes to return to Telluride for the Blues & Brews Festival, with headliners The Black Crowes, Sept. 14-16. This time she won’t need a miracle. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 945-8515, ext. 16601.