Beloved MeadowGrass Music Festival Kicks off Long-awaited Big Summer for Live Music | Culture & Leisure


BLACK FOREST • So that’s what it feels like.

After more than 15 months without live music as we have known, the three days MeadowGrass Music Festival served as a welcome back to a long list of things that were missed and, in a way, forgotten: friends, hugs, camping, clapping with strangers, making new friends, singing songs you know or not. And, most importantly, the normal live music experience.

For attendees of MeadowGrass, apparently the first big music event to return to the Pikes Peak area after the pandemic ended such things in March 2020, every little thing was something to celebrate.

On Friday, the first day of the festival, Steve Harris, the festival’s co-founder and music booker, said he had the same conversation over and over at the La Foret Conference and Retreat Center, the forest-like venue that hosts MeadowGrass.

“People are just overwhelmed to have live music in this beautiful setting. It’s very moving for a lot of people, ”he said. “It’s like waking up after dark and suddenly there is light.”

You could hear that “light” from the stage as Colorado Springs musician Jeremy Facknitz danced, as if unable to contain his excitement.

“Some of you are like, ‘Relax, it’s 2:50 pm on a Friday,’” Facknitz said. “I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for 15 months, and you?”

You could also see the light in the woman’s eyes jumping up and down when she first saw her friends. Well, Trisha Montoya admitted that she saw some of these friends in small, socially distant groups during the pandemic. But not like that. Not all together. Not in their special place.

Montoya and many of her friends have attended MeadowGrass since the locally held event started in 2009. There’s also this “MeadowGrass family” of people she only sees once a year and doesn’t. couldn’t see last year, when the festival was canceled due to COVID-19.

“To see them here in a big group and in a setting like this, it’s like everything is fine,” Montoya said. “We succeeded and here we are. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

This is not just any parameter, however.

MeadowGrass is the kind of place where vehicles weave their way through trees on a long dirt road to park. It’s the kind of place where a lot of people have hoops. This is the kind of place where kids throw Frisbees or baseballs or run around playing with cardboard toys.

“It’s a small festival, but it’s our festival,” Harris said. “You see people year after year who care deeply about this festival.”

In front of the stage, which this year was not surrounded by the usual large yellow tent, there were rows of people sitting on folding chairs or on blankets. There was at least one chess table set up and several people walking around in bare feet. Behind the chairs were rows of people in tents, then there was the official camping area, where people would settle in for the weekend and are known to stay up until the early hours of the morning to listen to music on another stage there.

It’s the kind of place, for Montoya and other previous attendees, that has years of memories.

“I’m not exaggerating when I say I walk through the doors and my shoulders are just doing that,” she said, dropping her shoulders somehow. “It’s that big sigh of relief. It’s like, “Okay, all is well with the world.”

Her 11-year-old daughter Arianna loves MeadowGrass so much that she took a break after painting a rainbow on a friend’s arm to say, “I love MeadowGrass so much. I have been coming here every year since I was born.

Mike Lewis and his wife, Lori, are more recent in the tradition. But they were happy to return to their trailer camping for the “first big event of the summer”. Mike Lewis set up his campsite at 9 a.m. on Friday.

“Not having had live music for a year, it’s like there’s something missing,” Lewis said, his dark sunglasses obscuring the sound of tears falling. “Not having the capacity at all, it was depressing.”

MeadowGrass was about to turn the tide for him, he said. And that’s what he did for many. As Harris walked around the festival, he said he had just seen “a lot of smiles”.

MeadowGrass started out as “a community effort” and has stayed that way, Harris said. In 2014, as the festival struggled to survive, Harris and Whitney Luckett co-founded the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Highway to keep it alive. The beloved event, which is fueled by many volunteers, likely wouldn’t have survived if it had to be canceled again in 2021, Harris said.

Instead, more tickets were sold than ever in MeadowGrass history. This means that the festival saw over 1,500 people on Friday and Saturday. MeadowGrass continues on Sunday.

“Partly it’s a testament to this festival, but part of it is a testament to everyone wanting to go and doing something and we’re one of the first,” Harris said of attendance. record. “We probably could have done pig control here and attracted another 1,000 people here.”

Beyond the Black Forest this Memorial Day weekend, there were other signs of the return of live music to Colorado. On Saturday, Weidner Field launched its alter ego as one of the largest concert halls in downtown Colorado Springs with a show from country stars Justin Moore and Chris Janson. AT Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, The Disco Biscuits played a three-night race with a capacity of 6,300 people. The iconic venue will return to full capacity on June 21.

“I think we’re going to see a giant summer in terms of live music,” said Harris. “There is just a little fear that maybe it was too early. But I think from what we’re seeing here we’re on the right track.

For Harris and other music fans, that feeling was long in coming.

“For me, there is no such thing,” he says. “It’s just a whole different thing than sitting at home staring at your computer screen.”


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