Fall Gets Creative in Crested Butte
August 28, 2017 // Cassidy Tawse-Garcia
The leaves are changing; crimson and golden hues are popping up all over the hillsides. The air is crisp, trails are buff, and frost may even great you in the early morning. It is Fall in Crested Butte. What once was a “shoulder season,” today is packed with events nearly every weekend. So between riding your bike and taking in the magic that is the changing colors of an aspen tree, make sure to check out the many local creative events happening in the Valley.
People’s Fair – September 2nd and 3rd
The Paragon Gallery’s 100% volunteer-powered, non-juried art show will feature artists from the Gunnison Valley and greater Western Slope. In its 28th year, “more than half the artists are local to the Valley,” says Festival Director, Jeff Dautrich.
Taking place down the middle of Elk Avenue (between 2nd and 4th streets) starting at 10 a.m. each day. “You can expect lots of cool arts and crafts, treasures and things that are affordable,” says Dautrich. More than 80 vendors display their wares. These include Julie Glassman and her antique enameled jewelry, Leslie Locklear’s “rusty things” (hailing from her Jack’s Cabin home), and Linda Drake with her funky handmade kitchen towels.
Back this year by popular demand, Oh Be Dogful’s Dog Show will take place on Sunday. Be prepared for pooches in costume, on parade. Or better yet, bring your furry friend and enter him in the fun!
There is no better way to kick off the fall season than a visit to the People’s Fair.
Vinotok – September 18-23
Truly Crested Butte’s most original festival, a fall in the West Elks is not complete without the burning of the Grump. Inspired by Eastern European traditions of celebrating the harvest, and preparing for the changing season, Vinotok was created by Crested Butte-local Marcie Telander 34 years ago.
Complete with maidens representing the 12 months of the year, a Dragon and a Knight, a Green Man channeling the male energy of the Earth and the Harvest Mother representing the fertility, the many characters of Vinotok create an archetypical cast of players. Together they bless and release the season, making way for winter.
Vinotok’s signature events include: the Harvest Mother Celebration at the Crested Butte Farmers Market the Sunday before the fire, “Myth, Meaning & Ritual” the story of Vinotok with Telander herself on Monday night, the Bootsie Spritzer Memorial Liar’s Night on Thursday evening (where the Green Man is announced), the Community Feast down the middle of Elk Avenue on Friday evening, and of course, the fire and burning of the Grump on Saturday.
Locals and tourists alike are invited to record their “grumps,” or gripes and grimaces at the world, and drop them in the many “Grump Boxes” around town in the weeks leading up to the fire. The Grump boxes are decorated by Crested Butte Community School children and make their way into the belly of the fire as a final resting place.
Perhaps the signature of Vinotok, every year an effigy is built and put “on trail” for the crimes of humanity against the earth. Ultimately, the Grump is found guilty and paraded down Elk Avenue to burn in the flames of one the largest fires allowed within town limits in the U.S.
“The fire is a cathartic release of the things we want to let go,” explains Vinotok Chief Mistress Kat Harrington.
To participate: Keep an eye on the Crested Butte News for a call for Volunteers. Or plan to attend the many events throughout the week and enjoy the spectacle.
Crested Butte Film Festival – September 28th – October 1st
Now in its seventh year, the Crested Butte Film Festival is all about gathering. Community, ideas, activities and action bring people together. The festival, “celebrates the transformative experience of film,” explains festival Co-Director Jennifer Brody.
In fact, an entire program of the international film festival is called, “Gather,” featuring events and activities to engage with fellow festival goers outside of the theater. From hikes to a special meal at Lil’s Sushi, the opportunities abound. With 100 films showing on three screens in two venues (the Crested Butte Center for the Arts and the Majestic Theater) over four days, a cinematic journey awaits.
A Festival favorite this year is “A Plastic Ocean,” of which Brody affirms it is, “a powerful look at the state of the world.” An Act Now Film, the audience will be provided with three concrete ways to act on the planet’s behalf. Also, don’t miss the curated festival guides, providing festival-goers with unique suggestions to enjoy not only films but also the bounty of fall that Crested Butte has to offer.
If you go: Four-day festival passes are $240, which include priority seating and guaranteed access to films. A full listing of films and events will be available September 1st at cbfilmfest.org.
Iron Pour – October 5th
Molten iron, hot and bubbling, glowing in the darkness and illuminating the night. It rolls down the hillside, with the aid fire-workers in tow, matching the hue of the changing aspen leaves. The molten iron makes its way into molds, of which cast iron works of art will be created. The many artists, students, and teachers work as a team manipulating iron, in one of the most unique art forms to exist today.
An Iron Pour is “a community art-making event,” out of necessity, explains Event Director, Melissa Mason. “Pouring iron is not something you can do in isolation by yourself. It’s a heavy process, and not easy work, so artists work together,” Mason continues.
An iron pour is not only a visual and physical arts experience; it is an event that encourages participation from novice to professional. From the experienced iron artists who work for days in advance setting up the pour and stoking the special furnace, to the skilled workers who assist in the pour, to the university students in artistic residency, to community members themselves who have the opportunity to carve a “scratch block” to be cast; the iron pour is for everyone. Plus the end product, a take home scratch block made of iron, will be an everlasting memory of the event.
In its third year, the Crested Butte Community Iron Pour is put on by the Art Studio of the Center for the Arts, and is supported by a grant from the Crested Butte Creative District. The event hosts artists from across the country, willing to travel to participate in a “pour” event. This year’s event will feature Araan Schmidtt of Colorado Mesa University. Schmidtt is known as an innovator in the art form, his father being responsible for building the first small-batch iron-casting furnace in the 1960s. Before that time, small sculpture iron casting was nearly impossible, as most furnaces were meant for huge items like trains, and were thus immobile.
So while the roots of the art form are ancient, the technique utilized in the Crested Butte Iron Pour is relatively modern. Crested Butte’s pour is even more unique in that it is “off the grid,” meaning everything is run off generators and there is no plug in power source. This aspect of the event allows the pour to take place in quite an iconic location, on “The Bench” overlooking the town of Crested Butte.
New this year, Sloss Metal Arts, the premier iron casting operation in the country, will build the Crested Butte community its own furnace. “This means we can go beyond an annual pour, and practical production aspects could be made all the time,” says Mason.
If you go: The “burn in,” where the furnace is started, begins at 4:30 pm. The furnace will be ready by 6pm, and the pour will go until 11 pm. Scratch blocks will be available at the event (and in the weeks prior) for purchase, where attendees can carve a design of their choice to be cast. The Event is free, and drinks and food will be available for purchase. Dress warmly, as it is fall in Crested Butte, and temperatures could drop.