The Sopris Sun

Water is more than a theme, it’s about life

By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff

This year’s theme for the 46th annual Carbondale Mountain Fair (July 28-30) in Sopris Park is water — the need for it in clean, potable form; the predicted scarcity of it if things go on as they have been; and the challenge to people to prevent that eventuality.

The idea for the theme, said Carbondale Arts Executive Director Amy Kimberly, came partly from her experiences at the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation last year, when countless Roaring Fork Valley residents traveled to the border lands of North and South Dakota to help the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members of that region, known as “water protectors,” fend off efforts to build an oil pipeline through their lands and underneath the Missouri River that provides them with water.

The concept also came, she said, “out of what’s happening around us and in the world,” as water resources come under attack from pollution, corporate control and the effects of global warming, to the point where she said “the things I’ve been reading are telling me that the wars of the 21st Century are going to be over water.”

Going to Standing Rock, Kimberly said, “really inspired me” and got her thinking about the fact that “water is one of the most important things in our lives.”

So, when thinking about a theme for the Fair, she said, “I just thought it would be good to call attention to water.” Check out the Fair Program for details about the theme and the manifestation of that theme.

Helping her out, Kimberly said, will be representatives of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, which was one of the tribes fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) for nearly a year, starting in the spring of 2016.

Tribal elders Phyllis Bald-Eagle and her husband, Amos Black Horse Cook, are expected to give the traditional blessing ceremony at the start of the fair, at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and a “Water Is Life” presentation of drumming, dancing and singing at 11 a.m. on Sunday, both at the Gazebo Stage.

Aside from the presentations, Kimberly said, the opportunity of talking with the tribal elders would be “a good chance for people to find out what’s happening” at the tribe’s reservation, where the resistance movement is ongoing, and to “learn more about the indigenous culture that is being impacted.”

Phyllis Bald Eagle, contacted at her home on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, told The Sopris Sun, “I’m glad there were so many people who came to us, and got a taste of the life that we used to have” during the DAP conflict.

She added that the tribes continue to celebrate Mother Earth in the region.

“That’s what we do,” she said, adding that she and Amos hope to “let people know that they can do something to stop what’s going on with our environment,” referring to battles involving pipelines that have sprung up elsewhere in the U.S.

Other aspects of the water theme will be a mural, “For The Love of Water,” being painted over the weekend by artists Sarah Uhl and Kelsey Brasseur, in the Cantina tent. The mural is to be auctioned off by the end of the Fair, with proceeds going to a water conservation project, Kimberly said.

There also is to be a Flash Mob at least once in which the mobsters will perform a song based on the water theme. Though the exact nature of the scene will have to be experienced, Kimberly said, she noted that it is being lead by iconoclastic local musician Olivia Pevec.

In other arenas, glass artist Robert Burch is doing the designs for decorations of the Main Stage, where a fountain will emphasize the connection with water; and poems about water will be recited from the Main Stage periodically.

“It’s time we honor the water in the incredible place where we live,” Kimberly declared, “and there’s no better place than the Mountain Fair to do that.