Carbondale’s Mountain Fair receives high marks for keeping problems to a minimum |

Carbondale’s Mountain Fair receives high marks for keeping problems to a minimum

A crowd gathers in front of the main stage as rain comes down Saturday afternoon at the Carbondale Mountain Fair in 2013.
Christopher Mullen / Post Independent |

CARBONDALE — Last weekend’s Carbondale Mountain Fair drew perhaps 15,000 people to Sopris Park for three days, once again showing that this community knows how to throw a party with relatively little trouble.

Carbondale’s town administrator, its chief of police and the director of the party itself all agreed on Monday that the Carbondale Mountain Fair was a success, and relatively peaceful.

“I think overall, the folks I’ve talked to have termed it a very successful fair,” said Town Manager Jay Harrington, explaining that from the town’s public works staff to the police department, he had received no negative reports of either the fair organization or the fair participants themselves.

Police Chief Gene Schilling agreed.

When asked how the Fair weekend was from the police perspective, he said simply, “Great. Quiet.”

He said the only arrest had to do with a domestic fight between a man a woman at the edge of the park, after which the man was arrested because he was drunk in spite of being subject to a “no alcohol” restraining order.

Beyond that, Schilling said, there were no drunk driving arrests, and even Saturday night, normally a time when trouble can crop up, “was, like, deader than dead” in terms of police activity.

“Maybe it was because we had so many cops,” he said, referring to officers from Glenwood Springs, Basalt, New Castle and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

“We had, probably, nine that night, besides all of us [Carbondale’s police],” Schilling said.

“We thought the fair went incredibly well,” added Amy Kimberly, director of the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, the organization that puts the fair on every year as its major fundraiser. She was speaking by cell phone on Monday as she oversaw the breaking down of the structures and facilities that form a temporary framework for the Fair in Sopris Park every year.

“I think the crowds were lighter, but that was due to the rains,” she continued, referring to occasional cloudbursts on Saturday and Sunday. “I’d say we were at about 15,000, maybe 14,000 or 15,000.” The high point of previous Mountain Fairs, she said, had been in the 18,000 range.

For openers, she noted, “Friday night’s crowd was bigger than last year’s. It varies from year to year, and it depends a lot on which band we have that night.”

Friday night’s lineup this year included a high-octane performance by The Paula Nelson Band, featuring the daughter of renowned musician Willie Nelson.

Roughly 160 vendors basically filled the park, where the maximum number of booth spaces tops out at 164, Kimberly said.

And the encounters between police officers and attendees were few and mild, she said.

“I don’t think there were very many, that I was aware of,” she recalled. “There were very, very few problems associated with the fair. It was a really easy, wonderful Mountain Fair.”

She said it will be a couple of weeks before CCAH will have final number in terms of how much money was raised for the organization’s various arts and entertainment programs that take place throughout the year.

“Our numbers are going to be down, for sure,” she predicted, but added, “Our successes are not all based on how much money the fair makes. The broader success is the involvement and enjoyment of the community.”

As an example of the community spirit that underscores the fair’s popularity, Kimberly said on Monday, “I’ve got about 20 volunteers out here helping me break down the Fair. They just showed up and started helping.”

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