Mountain Fair maintains spirit, brings new attractions
If You Go...
What: Mountain Fair
When: Vendor hours are noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday
Where: Sopris Park in Carbondale
How Much: Free entry
Forty-three years ago, a small group of traveling artists set up shop in Carbondale’s Sopris Park to sell their wares, and Mountain Fair was born.
It’s grown a little bit since then.
Now, Carbondale’s biggest annual festival features 145 booths manned by local and regional artists and beyond, 300 volunteers who come together to make it happen and 15,000-18,000 attendees over the three-day event.
“I would describe it as very creative,” said Amy Kimberly, executive director of the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH), which organizes Mountain Fair every year. “It’s kind of like the old roof raising that used to happen in the old days, when everybody came together to help their neighbor get their roof up, then there’s a big party afterward. Whatever anybody has, they bring it. It’s the whole community getting together to help make this event happen.”
Mountain Fair features a park full of homemade wares, nonstop live entertainment like music and other performance art, a family area called The Oasis, which provides interactive and creative experiences for children, great food and friendly competitions.
These are just the annual traditions, though. This year, there are a variety of new additions to the festival.
First, the monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery are visiting Carbondale for nine days and will build the town’s first-ever sand mandala at the Third Street Center as part of Carbondale Compassion Days, which overlaps with Mountain Fair and runs July 24 through Aug. 1. The monks will provide an opening blessing at 4 p.m. on Friday at Mountain Fair, and they will have a booth at the festival with information about themselves and Tibetan culture.
Something else that’s never been seen before at Mountain Fair is Rooted Rhythm, a group of local performers that will put on a show each evening before the bands play. They incorporate aerial skills and circus arts into their shows.
Also, Albuquerque’s Poet Laureate Jessica Helen Lopez will perform spoken word poetry at 6 p.m. on Saturday as part of the fair’s Open Mic Poetry Session at the Oasis Stage. Poet, spoken word artist and activist Suzi Q Smith will take the main stage between musical sets, too.
“I’m really excited about our growing spoken word participation,” Kimberly said.
Musical guests include Moon Hooch and The Original Shakedown Street (a Grateful Dead tribute band) on Friday; Cody Jeffryes, Natural Transfusion, Ivory Deville, Conjunto Colores and Hot Buttered Rum on Saturday; and Earthbeat Choir, The Starletts, Saddle the Unicorn, Josh Rogan, SHEL, Diego’s Umbrella and Brothers Keeper on Sunday.
While the attractions themselves are wonderful, Kimberly said her favorite part of Mountain Fair is how it captures the spirit of Carbondale.
“My personal favorite is just watching how everybody comes together for the fair,” she said. “A lot of people that grew up here come back every year. There are a lot of high school and CMC reunions that happen around the fair.
“I think one of the best things about it is the people from the community here in Carbondale are the ones that make it happen. We’re on our third generation of volunteers now. That’s what’s so beautiful, is the core values of the fair are passed down year by year.
“Other cultures have their rituals, and we in Carbondale have our Mountain Fair.”
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