In the September issue of
Colorado Central Magazine

Participants of the 2016 BV Strong Dinner in Buena Vista, Colorado. Read about this unique community event in the September print edition of Colorado Central. Photo by Lee Robinson.

Places: Community Gardens

By Ericka Kastner

During this time of uncertainty in our country, it can be helpful to focus on the good things that are still alive and well and happening in towns and cities across the nation; community gardens are one such place. Recently I did a little research and I learned that there are at least a dozen community gardens in Central Colorado alone.

Last spring I left my comfort zone and signed up for a plot at the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association’s Salida Community Garden at Second Avenue and I Street. My family’s move from the woods to downtown precipitated the decision – as our current yard doesn’t have any established spots for growing. Beyond that, I was hopeful that I might glean a little wisdom from seasoned gardeners sharing the space; and I was curious as to what it might be like to pull weeds alongside other dirt-loving, seed-planting aficionados.

My spring got a little busy and then a 16-day trip to Panama for my daughter’s 16th birthday basically put the planting on hold until mid June. I came to see that having an off-site garden was going to require a little more effort on my part to make things happen. Daily walks to the plot – the Salida garden is a mere four blocks from my house – were somehow put on the back burner in lieu of more “urgent” matters at home. Read more

Exit Stage Left: The Demise of A Community Theater

By Elliot Jackson

Every community gets the community theater – if it gets one at all – that reflects it in some way. Its beginnings, its tenure, the choices it makes along the way in which plays to produce, which performers to feature, what sort of audience it is trying to attract and, finally, its exit from the community stage, all say something about the nature of the community itself.
Salida’s Stage Left Theater Company has made the decision to close its doors after its September 2017 production of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, and this decision reflects an ironic fact about Salida itself: that despite its growing reputation as an “arts town” – its status as one of the original Colorado Creative Districts, for example, its numerous arts and crafts festivals, or its many galleries featuring local potters, painters, sculptors and photographers – many of these artists are noting that it is getting more and more difficult to produce their art here.
The reality that theater is a collaborative process, dependent on many people working together in tandem, who may or may not be getting paid for their efforts (mostly not), compounds the difficulties that theater artists face. The other reality is that with the best will, or the best volunteers, in the world, running a theater company is hard work. “I ran myself into the ground trying to keep financial flow going, and then keep everything else going,” says Devon Jencks, the current Creative Director of Stage Left. “We needed more people who knew how to tap into the community – we were exhausting resources everywhere.” Read more

Eye on the Fifth

By Daniel Smith

Until the recent horrific tragedy in Charlottsville, Virginia, brought renewed attention to issues of race, diversity and white supremacist groups’ self-empowerment to demonstrate their hateful, devisive agenda, Salida had been in the national news over a shocking immigration incident.

At the end of July, eight German exchange students headed for residents’ homes in Salida, as other students had in previous years, were stopped at Denver International Airport by immigration authorities, detained overnight in holding cells away from the airport and deported back to Germany the next day.

Pressed for reasons for the unprecedented action, immigration officials insisted the student were coming in and “taking work away from U.S. citizens” – illegal since they had no work visas.

Susan Masterson, who has coordinated the exchange program for a number of years, was quoted saying she reached out to State Rep. Jim Wilson, Fifth District Congressman Doug Lamborn, Governor John Hickenlooper and Senator Michael Bennet. No one could stop the unceremonious deportations of the students.

Immigration officials said they were trying to enter on tourist visas, which was illegal, but it’s unclear just what “jobs” the students would take from U.S. citizens while here for just four weeks. It was the first time any such complication had arisen in the rewarding exchange program here. Read more

13 Years and Still Going Strong: Spanish Peaks International Celtic Festival

By Barbara Yule

Let the pipes and fiddles set your feet to tapping! September 21-24 ushers in the 13th year of “the biggest, little Celtic festival” in Colorado – the 2017 Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival in Huerfano County. Picturesque La Veta, located at the base of the beautiful Spanish Peaks, is the focal point for the majority of festival events. Sacred to early American Indians tribes, the Ute people named the Spanish Peaks Huajatolla (Wa-ha-toy-a), “Breasts of the Earth.”

Today, people living in La Veta still celebrate the peaks for the plentiful snow and rain they bring and the greening of surrounding valleys and uplands that sustain her people and abundant wildlife. Look closely, and you’ll see deer moseying down the street and resting under trees.

Unique in its scope and focus, the festival is designed along the lines of musical retreats in Ireland and Scotland, where attendees typically stay for an extended time and actually participate in scheduled and impromptu activities with guest performers and tutors. This festival offers a dazzling array of instrumental, singing, and dancing workshops plus fascinating demo/performances and concerts throughout each of the four days (lots of FREE events!). The festival has an intimate feel, and folks come back year after year to experience the rare blend of learning and entertainment and to share their passion for the craft and the music with like-minded, kindred spirits. Read more