Funds sought for repairs to Berkman memorial stage

By Tamie Meck

Funds sought for repairs to Berkman memorial stage | Paonia, Berkman Memorial Stage

Photo submitted Patty Kaech-Feder, development director for KVNF Public Radio, happily accepts a check for $1,500 from Mountain Harvest Creative executive director Heidi Hudek at the May 17 board meeting of The Blue Sage Center for the Arts. The money is

After 12 years of concerts, plays, dance performances, recognition speeches and western Colorado weather, the gazebo/stage at Paonia Town Park is in need of repair.

Efforts to mend and preserve the structure are currently underway. Local musician Rick Stockton is spearheading those efforts through the Mountain Harvest Creative, sponsor of the annual Mountain Harvest Festival. The non-profit's mission is to celebrate and serve the local communities. The "Save Paonia Town Park Stage" crowdfunding campaign was launched last weekend on Indiegogo, with a goal of $1,500.

The plan is to have improvements to the floor and sealing of wood completed by the July 4 Cherry Days celebration, said Stockton. The stage is also a central part of the annual BMW Rally in July, the Pickin' in the Park music series in August, and the Mountain Harvest Festival in September.

The stage is owned by the Town of Paonia and the board of trustees recently passed a resolution to name the stage in honor of the late musician Howard Berkman, who had a large impact on the local music scene. The town is also donating money toward repairs.

Berkman died Oct. 31, 2011, after a brief illness. His family created the Howard Berkman Foundation and is donating the balance of his estate to local nonprofits. On May 17, representatives of the Blue Sage Center for the Arts and KVNF Public Radio each received a donation of about $1,500, and the Berkman family also gave $200 toward work on the stage.

Berkman came to Colorado in 1977 by way of Chicago and moved to Paonia from Carbondale in the early 2000s. He played with numerous blues legends including Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters and founded the legendary Chicago band, The Knaves, in the 1960s.

On April 23 the "Concert for Howard" was held at the Blue Sage. Berkman's musician friends including Harry Harpoon, Johnny O, Mike Gwinn, and The Scones took the stage. Stockton, a founding member of The Scones, said a hat was passed and more than $500 was collected.

The Howard Berkman Memorial Stage will be formally dedicated during the Mountain Harvest festival in September.

Donations toward stage repairs are tax-deductible and can be made at