Mountain Fair weathers changes |

Mountain Fair weathers changes

While Mountain Fair has not changed substantively over the years, other than growing, some of the individuals involved have changed a lot. John Gorman, who for years ran the gyros booth on Food Alley and is now a real estate broker running for Garfield County assessor, holds a photo Wick Moses took of him at the 1972 Mountain Fair. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

The regionally famous Carbondale Mountain Fair turns 35 years old this weekend.

The event is no doubt long-lived. Aging hippies continue to flock to “the Fair” every year to mingle with those young enough to be their kids ” in fact, many are ” and enjoy the spirit and camaraderie that has been the hallmark of the event.

To mark the anniversary, organizers have come up with a few nostalgic features to take longtime fairgoers back to the days of yore, and a new one expected to be a hit with kids of all ages ” the Wise Fool Aerial Circus, an act from New Mexico, which will hold forth in the middle of the park early Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Mountain Fair is set for July 28-30 at Sopris Park in downtown Carbondale, and will feature what has become a traditionally eclectic blend of musical styles, crafts booths, food booths, and activities for children and adults.

The event draws itinerant artisans from all over Colorado and neighboring states, as well as fairgoers from throughout the Western Slope and beyond.

The first Carbondale Mountain Fair was actually an eastern-style chautauqua, a rather low-key gathering of folky musicians, craftspeople and hippies looking to have a good time. The event was pulled together by a band of recent immigrants to Carbondale, many of whom had moved there to escape from Aspen’s increasing status as a resort for the wealthy and the famous.

One of this number was Laurie Loeb, now fondly referred to as “the Mother of the Fair,” who also was instrumental in forming the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, for which the Mountain Fair is the main fundraising event every year. Loeb over the years also has been a member of the town board of trustees, and one of the organizers of a political action group known as the Town Mothers, which successfully fought to kill development plans for the Crystal River Marketplace big-box project in 2003.

And for several years she has opened the Mountain Fair with her Rhythms of the Heart Community Drum Circle on Friday evenings, an event she will conduct this year starting at 4:10 p.m., following the opening blessing of the fair at 4 pm (one hour earlier than usual) by artist, honorary shaman and community activist Fred Haberlein of Glenwood Springs.

This year’s first-ever circus act, high-wire stuff only, will begin to set up on Friday afternoon, which Mountain Fair director Amy Kimberly said “should be quite entertaining in itself.”

Artist Bill Morrow of Rifle will bring back his banners flying from tall iron stanchions ” the same banners and poles that were last at the Fair in 1999, the year that “the Famous Mountain Fair fireball lit up the park like God’s own arc welder,” in the words of longtime fair observer Lynn Burton.

The music of this year’s fair is typically broad-based, from Friday night’s Euphorquestra ” Rhythms from Africa, Cuba, Bluegrass and Beyond, to the Masri Nar Tribal Dance Troupe (Friday and Saturday nights); from the rock ‘n’ roll blended with alternative country of the Nadas, to the Reggae rock pop of SeePeopleS on Saturday night; and ending Sunday night with the Latin sounds of Nosotros, billed as playing “Los Lobos-style Latino rhythms,” and the funky soul of 8 Trac.

And that’s just the national and international acts. Local musicians include Steve Skinner and The Natives on Friday night, Frank Martin’s Acoustic Stew (10:30 a.m. Saturday), Jan Garrett and J.D. Martin on Sunday, along with a Sunday midafternoon set by local favorite Wendy Woo and the Woo Crew.

Along with the music, the many food and crafts booths and the fun for kids at the Oasis, there will be the usual people-pleasers ” the woodsplitting contests (women Saturday evening, and men Sunday afternoon), limbo contests for kids (2:20 Saturday) and adults (3:30 Saturday) and the equally traditional horseshoe competitions at noon on Saturday (singles) and Sunday (doubles).

More information on the Fair is available at the CCAH website,, or by calling 963-1680.

John Colson can be reached at

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