Byline Burton |

Byline Burton

What would Carbondale’s Mountain Fair be without … shade trees.

And what would Mountain Fair be without … KDNK public radio.

Well, Mountain Fair wouldn’t be nearly as cool or nearly as cool, in answer to the first and second questions.

Noncommercial KDNK, with its eclectic programming and go-anywhere-to-cover-the-news attitude, broadcasts off and on from Sopris Park throughout this weekend’s fair. This means folks can tune in to fair music, updates and commentary as they tool around the Roaring Fork Valley in their cars, do chores around the house, make their dogs practice yoga in the backyard, or hang wherever they hang.

One of my best Mountain Fair memories is from two or three years ago, when I dragged KDNK along on a Jeep trip over Hagerman Pass to Leadville on a Saturday morning. A crackly country band played while the Jeep splashed through the pass’ shallow creeks just this side of the summit, and I swear the Mountain Fair crowd cheered when I stopped the car to take a leak.

KDNK’s Mountain Fair coverage is especially helpful for folks who live a few blocks from Sopris Park, and leave on the radio while they come and go, and come and go, and come and go to their houses. If nothing else, how else would home-bound housewives ever know if Conan the male belly dancer hops back on stage again for another one of his famous, and somewhat suggestive, routines?

I live only a block from the park. Friends, friends of friends, total strangers and Rainbow People have been known to rest on my porch like tired dogs on warm afternoons during the fair. Sometimes, I’ll position a boom box radio on the porch, turn it on to KDNK, and leave it going there the whole weekend. This is a fine way for the tired dogs and me to enjoy the fair at all times, without actually being there. Then we all jump up and rush over when a really good band comes on stage, or their finale sounds hot and danceable.

For folks far away from Carbondale and Sopris Park, KDNK keeps them posted on upcoming musical acts, weather conditions, unconfirmed UFO sightings and anything else that might pop into the head of whichever volunteer DJ is on duty.

One of the neatest things is to go into a store, bar or restaurant during Mountain Fair, and hear what’s going at the park, thanks to KDNK. The station is located at 90.5 and 88.3 on the FM dial, just in case some of you proprietors want to do your customers a big favor this weekend, and give them something unique to the Roaring Fork Valley.

Mountain Fair would not be the fair it is without KDNK filling the local airwaves with Sopris Park action Friday night, and all day Saturday and Sunday. It takes a lot of money and good karma to keep a noncommercial radio station on the air 365 days a year. The station has plenty of karma to spread around, but is always working hard at one fund-raiser or another.

If you appreciate KDNK’s Mountain Fair coverage, or just like having them around the rest of the year, check out the station’s Traveling Gypsy Bingo Parlor. From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, money or prizes will be won at each game. Pull-tabs will be sold throughout the weekend with winnings up to $250. The Gypsy Bingo Parlor is located on the 7th Street side of Sopris Park.

As for the shade trees, Sopris Park would be an oven without them. They stand fat and tall on the park’s west side, and start casting their shadows over Food Alley before noon. By 2 p.m. the shade starts cooling the hot grass. Thanks to those trees, the park is nice and cool, well before the sun goes down.

So there you go. Cool radio, cool trees. Mountain Fair wouldn’t be the same without them.

– Lynn Burton is a Post Independent reporter, who has reported on Mountain Fairs since 1982.

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