Sopris Soarers will soar again

A big hit with the crowd in 2018, the Sopris Soarers return to the Mountain Harvest Festival in 2021.

The 20th annual Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia scheduled for Sept. 23-26 will be dedicated to the late Rick Stockton and Bill Bishop, two of the popular fall festival founding fathers.

“We’re well on the way to the festival. Everybody’s ready for this festival and we’re looking forward to it,” said Tom Backus, president of the Board of Directors for Mountain Harvest Creative.

The annual festival is a celebration of local music, art, farms, food and spirits. Organized by the nonprofit organization Mountain Harvest Creative, the festival allows visitors and locals alike to enjoy the music of the North Fork Valley, browse local arts and crafts and participate in numerous fun fall activities.

“This year we obviously lost two people who were very close to the festival, Rick Stockton and Bill Bishop. This year’s festival is dedicated to Rick Stockton. We also acknowledge Bill and say that the festival is in honor of him,” said Backhus. “Sunday afternoon before we close up there’s going to be a real tribute to them.”

Last year would have been the festival’s 20th anniversary; however, the pandemic closed down the event, according to festival director Josh Behrman. With the festival roaring back, Behrman was excited to share some of the events with Paonia town council during the Aug. 24 meeting.

“It is a four day event kicked off by the Harvest of Voices. There is a tremendous amount of activity in the park all day Saturday and Sunday and Friday night. We have a lot of new partners. One of the things that we’ve emphasized this year is kids,” he told council members.

Behrman highlighted a few of the events including the Kids Zone, puppets, an aerial presentation and two and half days of “non-stop” music. Other activities include farm tours, self-guided winery tours, farmers market tastings, musical and aerial workshops, yoga classes, pub crawl, outdoor vendors, bicycle parade, pie contests, potlucks, chili cook off and so much more.

“There’s really something for everyone. There’s a ton music, there’s a ton of kids stuff, there’s a lot of family fun activity and I am hoping it’s something you guys can be very proud of,” Behrman told the town council.

Backhus and Behrman made the brief presentation before the council before asking and receiving a $450 waiver for park related fees.

“I am going to ask on behalf of our board the waiver of the park fees, $450. We’ve done a pretty good job of fundraising. Fundraising has gone okay. It hasn’t gone great,” Backhus told the board.

While the majority of the council was in favor of granting the waiver due to ongoing hardships created by the pandemic, Trustee Bill Bear made his case for ending the all fee waivers.

“Again I object. I think the town regardless of who uses the park and for what good it is, the town incurs the cost and those costs have to be made up either by the people who use the park or by citizens. I think it’s unfair to burden the citizens of the community,” Bear commented.

More information on Mountain Harvest Festival can be found at: mountainharvestfestival.org

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