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Mountain Fair holding lottery for shade this year

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By Lynn Burton

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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