Maintain events that matter


There is a constant buzz in Pagosa Country about key amenities and the various events and celebrations that take place throughout the year. The chatter, from promoters and participants, includes claims of how events draw people here, about the economic benefits that accrue.

Some of the claims are fairly accurate; some of them — those that rely heavily on “multipliers” — can be outrageous.

There are, however, events that take place each year that bring verifiable, significant value and attention to the community. These events should be recognized, their presence lauded. Anything within reason should be done to ensure they survive.

One of these events is two weeks away.

The Four Corners Folk Festival.

This is the 18th year the festival will take place here. The first year, 1996, occurred following what Dan Appenzeller called a “what if?” moment. “What if” became reality and a major attraction. When Crista Munro and Appenzeller formed the non-profit FolkWest and continued to produce the festival few could have predicted the success and the benefit to this community.

That first year saw a couple nationally known names on the bill — John McEuen and John Hartford. Since then, the Labor Day festival has consistently shown how wide the label “folk music” is, bringing in headliners that range from hybrid bluegrass (The Punch Brothers) to jazz (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), Texas roadhouse rock ’n roll (Delbert McClinton), East LA-bred rock (Los Lobos), Celtic (Natalie MacMaster) and blues (Keb Mo). These luminaries, and many others, playing other styles, have propelled the festival to the heights.

To debate whether or not the festival makes any significant economic impact on the community is a waste of time. The upcoming event will attract an average of more than 3,000 persons per day, with at least 10,000 expected for the three days. People can quibble about the total economic input to the area, but this stands meaningless when one considers what the festival (and the first-of-summer companion Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival) does for Pagosa Country. It is far more than mere dollars.

If any event gets the word out about Pagosa Country, this is it. Music lovers across the country, and in other countries, know where we are because of the festival. It is one of Pagosa’s primary magnets.

Further, the Reservoir Hill site is legendary among festivalgoers. Those who would suggest moving the event from the hill are misguided. Yes, it could move to a downtown site and, perhaps, this would add some economic activity to the weekend. Absent its unique setting, though, the allure of the event would be fatally diminished and the will of the promoters to continue could be struck as well.

Thus, when the FolkWest contract to use the site on Reservoir Hill comes up for renewal, the town council should recognize the importance of the festival to the future of the town and conduct negotiations accordingly. The festival should stay on the hill; the hill and the festival are inextricably joined. Input from festival promoters should be included in any considerations of improvements to the hill and the site.

This is the 18th year the Four Corners Folk Festival will take place in Pagosa Country. As always, it will be a great treat for music lovers — residents and visitors alike.

We urge the town’s political leaders to attend the festival this year, to learn about the event or refresh their memories.

And all concerned need to realize the event is great for this place … and this place is great for the event.

Karl Isberg