The Mountain Fair is not only the largest event in Carbondale Arts’ annual program, it is also recognized as one of the most anticipated and entertaining festivals in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.
The Carbondale Arts website declares the Mountain Fair to be a “locally based, volunteer-run, non-sponsored festival that exemplifies Carbondale’s values: collaboration, creativity, education, volunteerism, curiosity and inclusion.”
The fair, now in its 51st year, will have a New Moon Magic theme integrated into the celebrations in Sopris Park, with additional booths from art vendors in Maker’s Park on Main Street. It’s all happening next weekend, Friday through Sunday, July 29-31.
Fair competitions such as pie and pie baking, bike and foot races, horseshoe throwing, fly throwing and limbo will return. They ensure a fun and lively atmosphere for participants and trade fair visitors alike.
New this year and celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Carbondale Clay Center, Potter’s Throwdown Relay is July 30th at 6:00pm under the Judges Tent.
Emma Martin, program manager at the Carbondale Clay Center, said eight teams of four will compete in various pottery challenges to achieve the fastest overall time.
The competition will feature unique throwing challenges including blindfolded throwing; throwing with something other than your hands (like elbows or feet); and do a pinch pot while wearing oven mitts.
No ceramics experience is required for the competition. However, Martin suggested, “If you’re inexperienced, watching a YouTube video or two may help, but it’s not necessary.”
Prizes will be awarded for the most challenges completed in the fastest time and a Potter’s Choice prize for the best pot made through all challenges.
Martin said the aim is to have fun and “a friendly competition – even for those who have never worked with ceramics – to see the essentials [clay throwing]. It might pique their interest in taking a class or two [at the Clay Center].”
The Jam Tent and the “Singer-Songwriter Competition” are not new, but have been paused. Located in Maker’s Park on Main Street, the tent will host fun bands as well as the revamped singer-songwriter competition throughout the weekend.
Glenwood Springs middle and high school music director Shanti Gruber has been performing at the Valley for about 15 years. She gives private voice, piano and guitar lessons and has run songwriting camps over the years.
She ran the Mountain Fair singer-songwriter competition from 2013 to 2018 and was asked to revive the event at this year’s fair.
Gruber will host the first round of the competition at Steve’s Guitars on Wednesday at 6pm. Participation is limited to 20 pre-registered artists aged 16 and over.
Round two will have five finalists performing two original songs in the show’s jam tent on July 30 at 12:30 p.m. The judges are local singer-songwriters or musicians who have contributed to the community in a variety of ways through songwriting, Gruber said.
The winner will receive a gift certificate from Glenwood Music, a half-day recording session at Cool Brick Studios and perform two songs on the main stage at Mountain Fair before the closing band Ozomatli on Sunday night!
Gruber said other Jam Tent programs include an open bluegrass jam. People are encouraged to bring an instrument and share a song. “Whether you want to listen to music or play music, it’s another layer of experience for show-goers,” she said.
For little ones, Creative Canopy includes bilingual events led by local Spanish-speaking artists, including Andrea MP Harris, who is in charge of this year’s bilingual program.
Harris explained what’s new is the focus on bilingual and bicultural programs mentored by bilingual volunteers, including students at Bridges High School, where she is an English language development and arts teacher.
“I want everyone to feel welcome, and when you feel welcome, you want to be there and participate,” she said. She and others hope the emphasis on inclusion will carry over to other community events.
Every day there are new moon themed activities like making and decorating masks for nocturnal creatures; Manufacture of headgear decorated with stars and moons; and students from the Waldorf school who help to make colorful wreaths of flowers.
“We thought about wearable crafts because it’s fun to see all these people walking around the show with these cool little creative crafts,” Harris said.
On the Creative Canopy stage, Alejandra Rico will lead the Spanish storytelling and Gabriela Mejia will teach a Polynesian dance and grass skirt class ending with a Polynesian dance performance.
A major event like the Bergfest cannot take place without hundreds of volunteers. The organizers are still looking to fill a few places. Visit the Carbondale Arts website at carbondalearts.com/mountain-fair. You will also find a complete guide to registering competitions and all Mountain Fair events.