Fairly fun time had by all in Carbondale
Carbondale’s Mountain Fair is as finely tuned as a race car, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely predictable.Folks at the fly-casting contest Saturday morning got some unexpected laughs when contestant Dave Johnson was a no show. In Johnson’s absence, event co-organizer Bruce Stolbach grabbed a brown paper bag, cut out a couple of eye holes, and attempted to crash his own event.Stolbach, a professional guide, was on shaky ground from the start. He got turned around and almost started casting in the wrong direction, or so it seemed to some. Seconds later when he reached to the ground to pick something up, the bag fell off and Stolbach’s true identity was revealed to one and all.”We don’t know who that guy is,” fly casting contest announcer Gil Finn told the standing room only crowd. “He could be from another planet.”The 31st annual Carbondale Mountain Fair wraps up in Sopris Park Sunday, July 28. Main events include the men’s wood-splitting contest, a doubles horseshoe tournament, Hoola Hoop contest for kids and a bunch more.The music lineup features:-The Earthbeat Childrens’ Choir at 9:30 a.m.-The Sybarite Quintet (classical) at 11 a.m.-Madahoochi (progressive jam) at 12:30 p.m.-The Johnny O. Band (blues) at 2:30 p.m.-The Moon Gypsies (folk rock) at 5:15 p.m.-Cold Mountain (Americana) at 7:15 p.m.Admission to Sopris Park is free. Besides the music and events, there are approximately 125 arts and crafts booths and 25 food and drink booths.A big hit at this year’s fair is a mixed drink called a mojito, served up at the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities Cantina beer garden.”Nobody knew what they were,” said Cantina manager Dru Handy shortly before the beer garden opened Saturday morning. “Everybody (Friday night) said they were really good.”Handy said the mojito is a rum-based drink with a lime flavor, and it’s topped off with a sprig of mint. “It’s perfect for a hot summer day,” Handy said.The Cantina is staffed by area nonprofit groups, and supervised by CCAH and fair personnel. Just before Handy sat down to explain the mojito, he and supervisor Bob Schultz huddled with the day’s first shift of volunteers, which was provided by Sopris Therapy Services. Some volunteers pour beer into pitchers. Others check IDs, mix drinks, or wait on customers and take money at the long serving table.”We need math majors up front,” Schultz shouted to the volunteers.A minute later, another volunteer called out, “Anybody want a lesson on pouring pitchers?”This year’s beer garden tent is larger and airier than previous years, with 12 tables inside and another six tables outside. “Last night was really busy. We were really moving it,” Handy said. “Everything flowed real well.”Handy estimated the tent could handle 200 to 250 people. “We’ll find out, if it rains,” he said with a laugh before returning to his managerial duties.-Every year, more than 400 volunteers help staff the fair, which is the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities’ main fund-raiser.Bill Hammond and Ken “Luby” Lubrant wore orange safety vests, and were on duty directing traffic at Seventh and Main Street by 9 a.m. Saturday. Lubrant was in the middle of the intersection, stopping traffic for pedestrians, while Hammond was on Seventh, keeping vehicles off the closed street.”My role?” Hammond asked. “It’s to keep an eye on Luby. There’s supposed to be two of us to keep an eye on him, he’s so much trouble.””Don’t believe him,” Lubrant shot back. “I do it all.””More people know Luby than me,” Hammond countered. “So they’d rather run down someone they know instead of someone they don’t.”Lubrant has been directing traffic at Mountain Fair for about 20 years. He said it doesn’t require any special training. “I remember from year to year,” he said.As for Hammond, a former Carbondale resident who has returned from Utah for 13 of the past 14 years, “I’ve been on this corner for six or seven years. For six or seven before that, I was on security and Peace Patrol.”While Lubrant and Hammond were directing traffic, Louie Girardot was just inside the park, setting up the kids fair for the Carbondale Community School. “Where’s the stapler,” his wife Tammy asked from one of the booths. “It’s over here,” Louie replied, pointing at a picnic table.Girardot said proceeds raised from the fair will go toward the Carbondale Community School’s cultural trip. “They’ve been thinking of going to Mexico this year,” said Girardot, who like lost of other folks Saturday morning were dressed for the coming heat: baggy shorts, T-shirt and wide-brimmed hat.Helping out with the Community School’s fair wasn’t Girardot’s primary gig Saturday. He was also slated to play keyboards with the Mt. Sopris Jam Band. He played Mt. Fair once before as a sideman for Steve Skinner, but was “way back in the corner.””Tonight, I’ll be right in their face,” Girardot said.Girardot was alert and reasonably awake Saturday morning. The same can’t necessarily be said for Tom Camp. The lanky, Pour House bartender was sprawled in a chair, staffing a park entrance point near the Community School’s kids fair. When asked what he did the previous night, Camp looked up and asked, “At what point?”Camp has been coming to Mountain Fair for seven years. When asked about his favorite part of the fair, he paused and said, “Saturday night … Booth 143. That would be my girlfriend’s booth.”-The main event in the park Saturday morning was the fly-casting competition, put on by Alpine Angling. “Carbondale’s only full-service fly shop,” co-owner Gil Finn managed to tell the crowd at several junctures before, during and after the contest.The contest is fairly simple. Contestants stand at one of two lines, 25 to 35 feet from a child’s size Hoola Hoop. Inside the Hoola Hoop, is a tiny aquarium, and inside that aquarium is a four inch, plastic rainbow trout rising out of the water. The key, Finn explained to the contestants and the crowd, is to see how close you can get the end of your line to “the fish’s lips.””The record is one and a half inches,” said Finn, who on occasion also goes by the name Tony Fotopulas. “You don’t get much better than that.”Finn, who owns and operates Carbondale’s only full-service fly shop, takes a somewhat grander view of his contest than some associated with the fair. Surveying the crowd that was starting to fill the park, Finn said, “There are arts and crafts, and entertainment, but I can’t see all these people turning out unless there’s a casting event.”The contest did attract a standing-room-only crowd, except for a few people who preferred to sit on the grass or on folding chairs. Not counting Dave Johnson the no show, and Bruce Stolbach the interloper, there were about 15 participants. The field included a 9-year-old Paonia girl named Marley Boone who was accompanied by her dad, Mike, plus Carbondale Police Lt. Greg Knott, Carbondale Board of Trustee member Russ Criswell (who was hoping for a windy day), Downtown Vickie Browne and her daughter Katie, Teri Smith (a No Name resident who competed with a blue cast on her left arm), Glenn Smith (who won last year’s competition), Diane Yoshimura and Glenwood Springs Post Independent photographer Jim Noelker.The casters were cheered on (or was it “jeered on”) by a kazoo band that was made up of Sue Horn, Marge Palmer, Kathy Ezra and Vickie Browne. The kazoo band also acted as contest judges, and made at least one critical call that some claimed might have altered the contest’s outcome.When he wasn’t reminding the crowd the contest was sponsored by Alpine Angling, Finn was measuring the distance of the casts to the fish’s lips, and gesturing with his hands in various ways how far the casts missed their mark.Finn also instructed the casters when necessary, and told one contestant who was whipping his rod around like he was flogging a mule, “Don’t turn your leader into a pot of spaghetti. … We call that a bird’s nest.”The contest was won by Glenwood Springs Post Independent photographer Jim Noelker, who landed his line to within 3 3/8 inches from the fish’s lips. Part of his elaborate award package included a green plastic bowler with a trout above the hat’s bill.This reporter battled through a crowd of well wishers to interview Noelker after his win, and it went something like this.”Jim, were you nervous?””Very nervous,” Noelker said.”Have you ever cast before?””Never,” he said.”How does it feel to beat a little girl in a competition like this?””I don’t want to comment on that,” he said.”Are you going to wear your green hat to work every day?””Every day. I’m not going to take it off,” he said.Smith and Yoshimura also won green hats and gift certificates from Carbondale’s only full-service fly shop, for placing second and third respectively.-Ruthann Maze, a Boulder-based potter, made it over to Carbondale’s Mountain Fair for the 22nd year. The Fair has assigned her a prime spot at the northeast corner of the park for the past 10 or 12 years. After being open two hours Saturday morning, Maze was leafing through VISA card receipts. “This morning has been good,” she said.One of Maze’s favorite parts of the fair is the pie contest, because pieces of the pies are sold after the competition. “So we get to eat them,” Maze said. “And I love the way the people (judges) dress up.”Maze spends the summer on Colorado’s arts and crafts fair circuit, and has noticed how the economy and wildfires have affected tourism.”There are fewer tourists, so it’s easier to get a spot at a restaurant or motel.”Maze said that with fewer tourists, sales are down a little.”But the local people are still showing up,” she said.
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