What is Fairplay?
September 13, 2005
FAIRPLAY – What could a rural community of about 610 residents possibly do that is interesting or fun? A lot more than you would think.The annual South Park Music festival descended upon the town just last weekend. Streets were blocked off and filled with music, food, turning Aspen leaves and beer, transforming the entire town into a giant three-day celebration of independent music. Over 100 artists and an estimated 12,000 fans came to the festival, playing music constantly on five stages for three nights and two full days. Although composed entirely of independent bands, each group shows promise, having received significant media coverage, radio airplay or spots for their music to be featured in TV shows or films. One band, Dressy Bessy, was featured in a National Public Radio piece comparing them in favor of the popular mainstream group Coldplay.
The festival also acted as a conference of sorts for the music industry and independent artists to mingle and make new contacts. There were many activities and discussion groups focused on networking and other important skills independent artists must have to succeed.It was a rather odd combination of people – a scene where one could spot a trendy, L.A. music-industry type with a carefully sculpted Mohawk and wallet-chain hanging down to precisely the right level standing right beside a guy dressed up in full cowboy regalia carrying real pistols. Despite the contrasting crowds, people were very friendly. Everyone simply wanted to hear music and have a good time.The gun-toting cowboys were actually members of Sertoma, a charity organization dedicated to the service of mankind. Sertoma primarily provides assistance for people with hearing, speech and language disorders. Besides the fact that they were quite obviously enjoying it, they dressed as cowboys to promote an upcoming Christmas Ball fundraiser. Appropriate Victorian or cowboy attire is required to attend the Dec. 10 ball, which will be held in the 105-year-old Fairplay Hotel. A “Quadrille Ensemble” will provide old-time cowboy and Victorian music dating back to the early 1800s. Profit from the $35 dollar tickets will go to charity.
Another festival called Burro Days celebrates the town’s mining history. Held the last weekend of July each year, the main feature is a burro race in honor of a famous burro who has his own monument in Fairplay. Contestants pull a burro 28 miles through steep terrain during the race to win a cash prize. It is said to be the “world championship of burro-racing.” The event coincides with the Park County Fair, and it includes a llama race, a mock gun-fight, parades, food, arts and crafts. Burro days is said to draw anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 people to town, but locals don’t seem to mind the crowds.”I think its great. Any time we can bring people into the community it’s worthwhile,” said Sertoma member Jerry LiPuma.Fairplay is a small town that seems to realize the value of having fun. Kids don’t even go to school on Fridays, staying for slightly longer hours during the rest of the week.
Pete Fowler is a freelance writer and can be reached at email@example.com.Vail, Colorado