EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


June 17, 2007

Destination Telluride: Beautiful bluegrass Colorado's dramatic scenery is backdrop to funky annual festival


Tent cities rise up, with the most coveted being Warner Field next to the music stage, the latter surrounded by the ravishing high-country Colorado backdrop of 14,000-foot mountain peaks. Here, as the moon comes up, you can crawl into your sleeping bag, leaving your tent flaps open and still hear the music until the wee hours of the morning, and most people who call themselves festivarians don't ever want the music to stop.

There might be a period of four hours or so in the middle of the night when there's no music in Telluride during this summer solstice celebration, but it's not much more than that. All the local nightclubs make use of the plethora of live talent in town during this week, so there's good music coming from every pub after the festival music ends around midnight.

We stayed at the classy Hotel Telluride, where, during breakfast, the band River Road - mandolin, guitar and fiddle with a sweet-voiced female singer - were already serenading guests in the lobby.

The festival isn't just for grown-ups. Children think of the event as a circus set up just for them. In the family tent at Town Park, they can find clowns doing yoga and juggling, Hula-Hoop decorating and lessons, aging hippies demonstrating American Indian games, and performances of original songs and stories by professional musicians. A lot of the kids go on to an area beside the stage where, during the performances, they can dance and show off their talents on the Hula-Hoop to the beat of the music onstage, often with their parents joining in. Next to the play area is a pond stocked with rainbow trout, open for anyone to drop a line.

We met a little boy who had supplied his whole camping family with a dinner of fresh-caught trout the night before. Before the music starts at the park, it is not unusual for a little one to be walking down Main Street and be stopped by a clown who wants to fashion a balloon hat.

During the festival, the town is one big playground for all ages. The fun starts on the Wednesday night before the festival with a massive potluck dinner at the Camp Billy site, followed by the Free Box Fashion Show, with models wearing fashions from Telluride's free clothing box across from the post office.

The festival staff, known as Planet Bluegrass, is strongly committed to an environmentally conscious festival, and to that end, they have set up "Greentown" in the back of the festival grounds. The family area is powered by the sun, and "sustainable festivation" is encouraged through the use of reusable to-go coffee cups and utensils during the event. Wind power offsets the impact of the electric, diesel and gas used on the stages and lights. Last year, organizers managed to offset all the carbon dioxide emissions created by the artists' travel to and from the festival by purchasing wind power credits, and they offer festivarians the chance to do the same by providing opportunities to purchase between $5 and $10 worth of wind energy, with the help of Clif Bar and Renewable Choice Energy.

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