By Ken Singer
As usual, festival performers sincerely praised the venue for RockyGrass. Act after act, whether they were here for the first time or multiple times, lauded the Planet staff, the setting, Colorado, the organization of the festival, and its environmental sustainability.
Festivarian staff, with mostly volunteers, directed parking, gave out the wrist bands for admission to the sold-out festival, staffed the compost and recycling bins, checked bags, back packs and wrist bands, made
sure the bathrooms and port-a-potties were stocked with toilet paper, scraped and pre-washed reusable plates and bowls, and provided arts and crafts, face-painting and a lot of activities for the young ones.
This was the 45th RockyGrass Festival, so many of the volunteers and supervisors had a wealth of experience. What was new was the portable dish washing trailer. Jonathan Herbst, son of Kim Fong (who recruits and supervises the student sustainability volunteers) ran the dish cleaning operation with students from the middle and high school. Jonathan started out as a tag-a-long with his mother to help out with earlier festivals and became a sustainability volunteer a number of years ago. The new wash trailer will be joined by a second one that will be used in Telluride for the festivals there (which draw twice as many Festivarians as the festivals here.)
Since, previously, the policy for vendors has been for many years to use compostable products. Now the Planet staff has purchased the 4000 reusable bamboo plates and bowls (utensils, food scraps, and paper wrapping are put in the compost) asking Festivarians to take items that are non-recyclable be taken out from the grounds. The landfill dumpster was outnumbered by the containers for compost and recycling.
The RockyGrass program for the festival notes that producing a compostable plate requires three to eight gallons of water while washing a reusable plate takes only 0.09 gallons, and may be used many times over the course of its lifetime. One of Jonathan’s responsibilities was to have his student volunteers hustle the clean dishes to the vendors and get the dirty ones quickly to the wash trailer.
The volunteers are students involved with the local middle/high school’s music program (which gets a financial donation from the Planet). Alumni and parents also help out.
Edward Kean, the sound and light coordinator for the Wildflower Pavilion, also has a few interns from the middle/high school learning about the lighting and sound boards so they will be better prepared to run the sound and lighting at the Lyons Middle/Senior High School theater productions.
Other local supervisors include Board of Trustees (BOT) member, Wendy Miller, the head of the cleaning crew who keeps the bath house and backstage areas tidy, as well as the LaVern Johnson Park bathrooms and bathhouse, which are limited to the festival campers and off limits to the public (except Lyons residents who walk to the park during the weekend.) The port-a-potties are pumped out twice a day during the festival to avoid unpleasant situations.
Former BOT member, Dawn Weller, is the supervisor of the “customs” volunteers who check bags, wagons, tote bags, and back packs for glass and outside alcohol at the front gate to the grounds.
Since many audience attendees come from afar, many people camped out on the Planet grounds, Riverbend, LaVern Johnson and Bohn Parks. In essence, the town’s population doubled for the festival (2000 campers). Campsites were judged for “excell(ing) in creative, sustainable camping.” Daily winners of the sites received beer and environmentally sound “merch.” The grand prize winner got a pair of three-day passes and camping for the 2018 fest.
This year's RockyGrass Festival included several local musicians - K.C. Groves and Jake Simpson among them. As always, the festival performers were world-class talents who brought great music to Lyons.
We who live here are truly fortunate to have this caliber of entertainment right on our doorstep.