Folks Festival at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons kicks off its 24th year in style

The Big Little Band performs in the Wildflower Pavilion during the 24th Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival on Friday, Aug., 15, 2014 at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. (Lewis Geyer / Times-Call)
The Big Little Band performs in the Wildflower Pavilion during the 24th Annual Rocky Mountain Folks Festival on Friday, Aug., 15, 2014 at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. (Lewis Geyer / Times-Call)

The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival is back.

“We finally got the (main) stage tied into the town electricity at 6:30 last night,” Planet Bluegrass spokesman Brian Eyster said Friday. “So, we turned the generator off and hopefully, that’ll be the last time a generator runs the Planet Bluegrass stage for a long time.”

That generator is what powered RockyGrass three weeks ago, Planet Bluegrass’s first festival since being nailed by the St. Vrain River in last September’s flood. Literally, a river ran through it.

That rebirth is giving the 24th annual Folks Festival a particularly special feel this year, and it has brought some new features long-time festivarians haven’t seen before.

One example is the riverwalk — a six-foot wide space between the closest tree to the river and a new rock wall built along the North St. Vrain. For Planet Bluegrass, it will help with bank erosion, and for visitors, it makes walking along the edge of the water a little less hazardous than it used to be. In the rebuild they also moved the beach area a little closer to the Wildflower Pavilion, meaning it’s a little further away from the stage, meaning the mid-day sounds of kids squealing in the river — a common and altogether joyful sound — won’t interfere with the sounds coming from the stage quite as much as they used to.

Closing out one of her songs, singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz noted to the crowd that “that’s a Tim O’Brien song,” referencing a Planet Bluegrass favorite and former local resident.

“I let my music take me where my heart wants to go,” Jarosz sang, picking a banjo accompanied by a cello and fiddle.

Another bit of newness in the rebirth of the property is a slightly larger dance area at stage left. Those who feel the need to shake those bones now have more room to move.

But even if you didn’t bring a tarp, and you need a break from dancing, “If there’s an empty tarp, go sit in it — until the people come back,” Eyster urged. “Just grab a seat until the people come back, because that’s how some cool friendships start.”

Damian Taggart was in the audience with his sons, 2 and 4. They came up from Santa Fe, New Mexico — “Just a boy’s road trip, basically,” Taggart said — and had been camping out along the way. This was his first time at Planet Bluegrass.

“I went to a smaller festival in Colorado Springs last year — MeadowGrass, in May — and the people camping next to us recommended this place. Said it was great for kids, with the river right there.”

He had a three-day pass, Taggert said, but admitted that something was telling him the boys may not hold out all the way through Sunday.

Andy Schneidkraut, who’s owned Boulder’s Albums On The Hill for more than a quarter century, is once again acting as emcee of Folks Festival, a gig he’s had for about 15 or 16 years, he said.

Part beat poet and part music nut, Schneidkraut is as likely during his introductions to drop in some Walt Whitman or Elizabeth Barrett Browning as he is to discuss the next artist’s musical influences.

Nearing the end of Jarosz’s set Friday, Schneidkraut sat alone, zen-like, in a darkened green room off the side of the stage, gathering his thoughts before going back out on stage. He remembers well, he nodded, the pictures from last September.

“For the first time in my life I’ve witnessed a miracle,” Schneidkraut said. “I think resilience is a superpower, and the Planet Bluegrass folks exhibit that superpower.”

Contact Times-Call staff writer Tony Kindelspire at 303-684-5291 or

24th Rocky Mountain Folks Festival

Where: Planet Bluegrass Ranch, Lyons

When: 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17

Tickets: As of Friday, single-day tickets for Sunday were still available online (you’ll pick them up at will call) and at the box office on the grounds

Parking: Follow the signs when you get into Lyons


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