Sopris Sun

Carbondale's community supported, weekly newspaper

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Mountain Fair holding lottery for shade this year

By Lynn Burton

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Faced with escalating costs and at times escalating tempers, Mountain Fair is holding a first-ever lottery for 20 shade-tent spaces this year.

According to the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities’ current newsletter, CCAH members who are chosen in the lottery will be charged $100 for a 10'X10' spot to pitch their open-sided tents during the three-day party, while non-members will pay $125.

Money raised will go toward Mountain Fair creating a “shade structure” or structures that will be put up in years to come to create shade for everybody.

“We appreciate how important shade is and we want to be as fair as possible,” said the newsletter.

The 42nd annual Carbondale Mountain Fair takes place in Sopris Park on July 26-28 and is expected to attract its customary 15,000-20,000 people.

Nobody The Sopris Sun contacted could remember when open-sided tents first started popping up around the soundboard and to the east away from the stage, but in recent years the tents are stuck side-by-side and can obstruct pedestrian traffic from the back of the crowd to the front. Tent-owners leave them set up through-out the fair and bring lawn chairs, blankets and other survival gear while they listen to music, chat, snooze and come-and-go.

The spots are so coveted, Mountain Fair set up sort of a “land run” on Thursday nights before the fair and tenters made a mad dash to claim their turf when the signal was given. In recent years, the rush has become “progressively volatile,” Kimberly said. “Last year and the year before there were some close calls. … There are more people than spots.”

The tent area is restricted to behind the soundboard, which is approximately 100-150 feet from the stage.

Kimberly said it doesn’t cost anything to enter the lottery but you pay if and when you are chosen.

Admission to the fair is free. Mountain Fair/CCAH makes money on the arts and crafts vendors, beer garden, T-shirt sales and raffle but Kimberly said costs keep going up and they are always looking for new sources of revenue. This year, for example, the fair will put volunteer entertainers at the park entrances so attendees can contribute whatever they see fit as they come and go. At the same time, the fair is trying to find ways not to have to charge admission, even though some people (including some town council members) have suggested charging to get into the park.

She said it’s also important for the fair not to sign up sponsors who would pay to hang their banners on the stage.

Getting back to the topic of paying $100-$125 for a tent, Kimberly said it’s not so much if friends go together and split it. “It doesn’t seem to be asking that much,” she said.

Not everyone is supportive of the shade tent lottery. In a letter to the editor on page two, Frank Norwood said he’d like for the fair to ban the tents altogether.

“Only about 100 ‘privileged’ people (five folks per 10'x10' tent) will benefit while blocking the view of the stage and easy movement through the park by the thousands of visitors to the fair,” Norwood writes. His letter later continues in part, “Sopris Park is a wonderful venue that belongs to the public and the Mountain Fair is a great event that should not cater to an elite few willing to pay for shade.”

Kimberly said she’s not sure what the proposed shade structures will look like or how they’ll be constructed, but pointed to Pickathon outside Portland, Oregon as one music festival that sets them up. They might be made of canvas or nylon. The fair would work with the town and get approval before anything goes in. “We want to make sure it’s a safe structure. … There are a lot of details we haven’t gotten into but we know it is possible,” she said.

Hopefully, the structures can be created locally to keep money in the local economy.

Next steps

The Mountain Fair shade tent lottery:

Deadline to enter – July 21;

Entry forms available at carbondalearts.com or the CCAH office in the Third Street Center.

Free to enter, winners pay $100-$125.