By Joshua Wolpe, DENVER DAILY NEWS
In 2000, the population of Crestone was exactly 73, according to census figures. Despite the scarcity of people, Crestone, located south of Salida in the San Luis Valley, has become an internationally known hub of many different spiritual traditions thanks to Maurice and Hanne Strong, who bought a lot of land in the area during the 1970s and granted much of it to various religious and spiritual projects.
From Gypsies to bluegrass
The region’s wide array of cultural and spiritual influences is reflected in this weekend’s Crestone Music Festival, which runs today through Sunday at the Challenger Golf Course.
The festival is a three-day, two-stage, multi-genre extravaganza featuring local, regional and international performers as well international cuisine, arts and activities.
“It is a community service type of festival filled with diverse genres of music,” said Tom Dessain, executive director of Crestone Performances, Inc., the non-profit that runs the festival. “I’d say about 80 percent of our community participates in the festival in one way or another – whether they are workers, vendors, attendees or anything else.”
Dessain is expecting about 2,500 people this weekend that will be seeing a full lineup of musical acts including tomorrow night’s headliner, The Edgar Winter Band, and Sunday’s headliner, Papa Grows Funk.
Dessain says you are likely to see as eclectic of a musical lineup as you could imagine.
“Traditionally we have 8-10 significantly diverse acts – you’ll be likely to find Eastern European Gypsies, traditional Zimbabwe marimba, Cuban music, something Celtic, bluegrass, classical, East Indian dance and African Kora music.”
The Crestone Music Festival is one of three programs run by Crestone Performances. The organization also produces a Youth and Community Performances program and a community service program.
The youth program seeks to enhance multicultural and arts education in San Luis Valley schools through music, drama and other interactive experiences. The program benefits 14 area school districts, and some of the funds come from music festival proceeds.
The schedule includes music tonight from 5-10, tomorrow from 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 8:15 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Adult ticket prices at the gate are $10 for tonight, $30 for tomorrow and $25 for Sunday. Youth day passes are $5, and kids 12 and under are free.
From Denver, take Highway 285 south to Villa Grove.
Five miles past Villa Grove, turn left on Highway 17 south toward Alamosa. Go 14 miles to the town of Moffat and turn left on County Road T.
Take County Road T eight miles to the festival, which is at the Challenger Golf Course on the left side of the road.
Visit crestfest.org for the complete schedule as well as links for accommodations including camping, hotels, motels and more.