Future of Realm music festival in western Colorado uncertain
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” The man who started the Realm of Music Festival says its future is uncertain after Garfield County commissioners denied its special events liquor permit this year.
Tim Warn said he spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours building a permanent, sound-proof stage and preparing the spot on the Klein Ranch on County Road 241 north of New Castle. He wanted to do something good for the community.
“I spent my entire 401(k) on this stage,” he said. “This is a beautiful thing that could happen for the community.”
He started the Realm of Caring Inc. Warn said it’s a nonprofit meant to raise money for music and art in public schools from festival proceeds. He said the Realm of Caring donated money its first year of operation to the family of a New Castle man who died unexpectedly from an aneurysm, but the organization hasn’t been able to donate to any schools since because the festival experienced bad weather for the following two years and lost money.
County commissioners voted to deny the special events liquor permit for the event Monday. It was scheduled for July 4, 5 and 6. The event this summer would have been the fourth year of the festival. As many as 450 people showed up last year, but promoter Chris Davis, of Edwards, told county commissioners organizers hoped to attract as many as 1,000 to get the festival making enough money.
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Around 48 nearby residents signed a petition opposing the event, saying the Realm of Caring “claims to be a philanthropic institution” but has not donated any of its past proceeds to any public schools. The petition and the critics said unlawful activity, noise, traffic, dust, trash and risk of drunken driving on a narrow and windy county road harm the neighborhood and pose a public safety risk.
But Warn and other festival supporters said the critics exaggerated and even lied to commissioners. They questioned how the critics could complain when, they say, none of them attended the festival.
“It’s a family-oriented event,” Warn said. “They (neighbors) think it’s their private land and they just don’t want people on the road. … The whole purpose of this whole thing was to raise money for the community.”
Last year, one man suffered a four-inch laceration to his groin at the festival and another reportedly crashed a truck nearby. A Garfield County Sheriff’s Office report said the man with the injured groin punched a security guard and an ambulance was called for a “possible overdose.”
David Raines, who worked security at the festival last year, said people were giving the festival a bad name, but the couple of problems at the Realm festival were “no different” from what would occur at any other festival, and the positive aspects of the Realm festival far outweigh the bad.
“It’s about having fun. It’s about being with friends,” he said. “It’s a really good atmosphere, amazing music ” a great experience for people.”
Raines worries that the county’s decision to deny the liquor permit would increase drunken driving if the festival is held without it. People might be encouraged to drink before driving to the festival, then drive back and forth to liquor stores, he said.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121