It was a wilder west when the Crested Butte Arts Festival cranked up unpretentiously in the summer of 1971. Back then it was a pleasant, sunny dusty-day blur of long-haired, smiling faces stringing beads into a matrix lace of necklaces and hammering silver and copper wire into dangling twisted earrings all in a cloud of music, incense and other entrancing smoke. It ushered in the early years when the art festivals were more of an unstructured fair on an unpaved Elk Avenue. It was a place where the somewhat newly relocated hippie artists and musicians tuned in and turned on, sold their crafts and plied their music to the genre of the era.
After 47 years, the Crested Butte Arts Festival is now one of the nation’s top juried art events, closing off most of Elk Avenue with about 200 booths of art, cuisine, demonstrations and children’s activities and two full days of music. Inside the entertainment area there’s an impressive selection of beer, wine and spirit vendors, including local Montanya Rum Distillery and Irwin Brewers. If you’re hungry, no worries— there’s plenty of food vendors for noshing.
For a complete schedule and list of artists and events visit crestedbutteartsfestival.com.
New this year as part of the Arts Outreach is an exhibit, The History of Art in the Gunnison Valley, that tells the story of the rich history embedded in the arts. The exhibit will be showcased on 2nd and Elk in the History of Art in the Gunnison Valley tent.
Heather Bischoff has been named the 2019 Emerging Artist with her interactive installation of aspen trees called See Trees, with visual access to the multiverse. Her forest will allow people to discover the inside of the trees, and how they might view their environs, with kaleidoscopic images, dioramas and collaborative art to ponder the stories that live within our environment. What do these trees see? This exhibit is also on 2nd and Elk.
Local artists are always a part of the Arts Festival and Crested Butte has no shortage of talent. This year features works by Adam Freed, Donald Mancini, Lori Raper, Elizabeth Delehaunty, Ivy McNulty, Wesley Blossom, Lara Holland and Timothy White.
Arts Festival executive director Chelsea Dalporto-McDowell says many local music acts will grace the Community Entertainment Stage on Elk Avenue with two days of practically non-stop performances, “We are excited to showcase our local talent on stage this year. This initiative showcases a broad spectrum of the performing arts and our commitment to fostering and enriching your creative experience while at our 2019 event.”
There’ll be much music and dancing in the streets with regional talent as well as local favorites thanks to a grant by CFGV. The opening procession with the Crested Butte School of Dance is on Friday, August 1, and sways down Elk Avenue from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Two headliner bands include Dragondeer, presented on Friday by the Center for the Arts and on Saturday, Rapidgrass Quintet, (Alex Johnstone, formerly of Spring Creek) presented by the Public House. For the late nighters, check out the Saturday show starting at 9 p.m. until close at the Public House with DJ Just How, a local multifaceted act that claims a Crunkstep Womptronical experience.
Watch for local bands on the street stage with Coal Creek Connection from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Saturday afternoon followed by Floodgate Operators from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Former locals but still much loved, Rapidgrass takes the stage from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Sunday’s music includes the Horne Sisters from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. followed by Sean Turner’s Shark Rattlesnake Alligator beginning at 12:30 p.m. and then Roundhouse takes the stage 2:30 to 5 p.m. Roadhouse includes Bruce Hayes, a beloved former local.
Dalporto-McDowell says the arts event continues to green. “We are continuing to increase our green initiatives by establishing a reusable influence in our Culinary Court with Zoetica and Sustainable CB. Purchase a beautiful Zoetica festival kit, or rent from Sustainable CB for your meal. Donations to Sustainable CB will further their mission of lessening waste impact in the Gunnison Valley and beyond. Additionally, the VIP House will have reusable wares for artists to eat and drink from and the Community Entertainment Area, branded reusable cups for purchase for our Beer, Wine and Spirits Pavilion.”
The Crested Butte Arts Festival is one of the highlights of summer up here where the air is thinner and the early August mornings and evenings are already beginning to cool off. The afternoon rains feed the wildflowers that are still splashing their colors across the canvas of high alpine meadows and slopes.
Get yourself out on the streets downtown for free music and events and where artists, musicians and visiting throngs will also color this art weekend with their creative works.