Carbondale’s Mountain Fair to carry on for 50th anniversary celebration despite COVID limitations

A wood splitting contestant gives it all he's got during the competition at the 48th Annual Carbondale Mountain Fair on Saturday afternoon in 2019.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Carbondale Mountain Fair plans to spread its wings a bit for the 50th anniversary installment of the annual community festival this summer.

With the likelihood that some level of COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings will still be in place come Mountain Fair weekend, July 23-25, though, organizers are taking some aspects of the fair to the streets and elsewhere around town.

Unlike many summer festivals that have already been canceled for a second straight year, including Glenwood Springs’ Strawberry Days, the Mountain Fair intends to proceed.

However, it won’t all take place in one place as in normal years, said Amy Kimberly, executive director for Carbondale Arts, which puts on the annual festival.

“This is an important fundraiser for us, but our goal this year is just to do a safe celebration for the community for the 50th,” she said during the Tuesday night Carbondale Board of Trustees meeting.

Kimberly won support from the board to close off a one-block section of Main Street, from Weant Boulevard to Fourth Street, in addition to the usual street closures on either side of Sopris Park.

The plan, Kimberly said, is for most of the arts and crafts booths and many of the food vendors that are a major part of the fair to be situated along the streets on either side of Sopris Park and on Main Street.

The fenced-in open lot at the corner of Main and Sixth Street will also again be used for booth space, as it was last summer when organizers put on a much smaller event.

Barring any major changes in public health rules, the fair will return to Sopris Park, which will serve as the main music venue and, if the rules allow, sales of beer and spirits within the confines of the park, Kimberly said.

Some aspects of last summer’s scaled-back mobile fair, including a traveling stage that took bands around to different Carbondale neighborhoods, may continue, she said

One big question that remains to be answered, though, is what to do with the many competitions and artistic performances that normally take place in the park and draw big crowds.

“We may be dealing with having to limit the number of people in the park at any given time,” Kimberly said, adding that may involve private security to help meter people in and out.

“We want to make it work and have good music,” she said.

Ideally, the competitions would take place at a venue that has bleachers, such as one of the schools or perhaps an open area where movable bleachers could be brought in.

“We would rather it be in the main part of town,” she said, adding the fair board is still very open to ideas.

Many of the changes could be a sign of things to come for future Mountain Fairs, Kimberly also admitted.

“We have many people who want to come support the vendors, but don’t really want to get near the music where it’s congested,” she said.

Town Trustee Ben Bohmfalk applauded the fair organizers for being innovative in their approach, and agreed it may be a sign of the times.

“Mountain Fair has kind of outgrown Sopris Park anyway, so maybe this is the future,” he said. “This is a good step … I think it’s great.”