It’s no lie: Every town needs a Mountain Fair |

It’s no lie: Every town needs a Mountain Fair

April E. Clark
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April in Glenwood

Each summer I go to a place that’s unlike any other in the world. Here, music is played from light until dark. There are life-sized puppets and stilt walkers. Cakes are of the funnel variety. Sometimes they’re vegan, too. And tie-dye is always in style.

Every town needs a Mountain Fair.

This annual event celebrates all the stuff we long for – peace, love and mojitos. Sprits are generally high, as Mountain Fairgoers hug and wish each other a happy fair. There’s a lot of dancing barefoot and singing along to songs, even if you don’t the words.

Shoes can be so overrated.

I’ve been going to Mountain Fair for eight years now, and this summer’s event was an especially memorable one for me. Not only was it the 40th annual Mountain Fair, this year was the first time I really became involved. Buying a cheese steak every year technically constitutes as support, but I wanted to take more of a hands-on approach.

Two hands can be necessary for the Mountain Fair cheese steak.

Like any community event that’s the scope of Mountain Fair – three days of live music, dancing, food, plenty of drinks, and contests – people are necessary. From booking the bands and registering vendors to setting up the backstage area and judging pies, Mountain Fair needs people to come alive.

A little like Pinocchio that way.

Technically, then, Carbondale Center for the Arts and Humanities is Geppetto. This magical nonprofit brings to life more than just puppets during Mountain Fair. With the CCAH network of volunteers and staff, the entire town of Carbondale comes to life through the arts.

Belly dancers shake it up while fire dancers spin to the “ohhs” and “ahhs” of the crowd. Drummers are encouraged to march to their own beats and guitarists play with passionate resolve.

The cheese steak isn’t so bad, either.

This year, I saw the men’s wood splitting contest in a new light as I helped commentate on KDNK. Front row and center.

Which I recommend.

Missing the wood splitting contest would be like forgetting to buy a cheese steak before the fair closes. This annual Mountain Fair tradition is highly entertaining yet functional. Not only are there costumes – and oh are there costumes – but wood is split that’s later auctioned off to the highest bidder. I know if I had a choice of who cut my wood, a man in a tutu and steel-toed boots gets my vote.

The tutu is aquamarine blue for the visual.

I love the wood splitting contest because there is also a female counterpart. There’s not anyone else besides a man with muscles in a tutu I want to see split word except a woman with muscles in a feather boa.

The boa is white because the wood splitter is getting married soon.

I also spent my first time in the Mountain Fair cake-judging tent this year, serving champagne to help cleanse the palate, of course. Cake, champagne and gospel from the main stage on Sunday morning of Mountain Fair.

That really is a slice of heaven.

While not much can beat cake, I’d say my experience in the Carbondale Renegade Marching Band will most stand out for me when I look back at the 40th Mountain Fair. This is a grassroots endeavor that started with an idea by my friend Sarah and now has legs like Pinocchio.

I have never officially been part of a band – except for the world-renowned Solar Sisters who are known to break out in solar-themed song at any time. Singing and playing the clarinet are not exactly my specialty, so I opted for baton twirling and dancing.

Those, I can do.

Like Baby in “Dirty Dancing,” I had the time of my life. It was nowhere near the same caliber of baton twirling as the Purdue Golden Girl from my alma mater, but I was secretly her for an hour. See mom, those baton lessons all those years ago finally paid off. Every marching band needs a majorette.

And every town needs a Mountain Fair.

– April E. Clark would like to say Ro Mead, Amy Kimberly, and Laurie Loeb rock. Thanks for your Mountain fair magic. April can be reached at

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