The 35th Annual Telluride Bluegrass included the most campers at the festival in a decade. With the late addition of the Telluride High School campground we were able to accomodate a few more folks than last year - nearly 3,800 festivarians. These campers were spread out in six different campgrounds around Telluride - Town Park, Warner Field, Telluride High School, Lawson Hill, Mary Ilium, and the Coonskin RV lot. This does not take into account the campers in non-Planet Bluegrass-managed campgrounds.
With so many folks camping this year, it was more important than ever that everyone make a serious effort in embracing the “leave no trace” camping philosophy. To encourage this behavior, we (with a lot of help from the fine folks at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics) instituted the 1st annual “How Green Is Your Grass?” sustainable campsite challenge.
Festivarians nominated themselves or other campsites and each day we chose a winner from the stack of nomination forms. Congratulations to the 4 daily winners: Camp Run A Muck, Camp Liam & Lilly, Camp Soap Box, and Camp Tucson Revival.
On Monday morning, after the completed campground pack-out and cleanups, we chose the winner - recipients of Town Park camping passes for the 2009 Festival (these tickets that can only be purchased through an online lottery in the fall).
Congratulations to the winning campsite: Camp Run A Muck. We were very impressed with all the efforts of this camp in the areas of cleanliness, sustainability, and creativity. Including:
carpooling to the festival
purchased food staples locally
no bottled water or canned beer- all beer was served from kegs
used solar power for all lighting and electronics
using a three system waste station- compost, recycling and landfill
hosted 30 campers throughout the week
At the wrap-up meeting with the town of Telluride after the Festival, several town officials mentioned how impressed they were with the pack-out from this year’s campers, calling this year’s cleanup “markedly better” than past years.
We provided compostable bags to many of the campers (thanks to the folks at Eco-Products). This proved to be very helpful in encouraging sites to compost throughout the week. Next year we’ll be working to get more of these bags out to campers. We hope to have final waste numbers (compost, recycling, landfill, etc.) from the festival and campgrounds in the next few weeks.
Thanks to everyone for camping by the leave-no-trace philosophy. We heard comments from lots of festivarians that the leave no trace ethic was really taking hold - as they found themselves instinctively picking up tiny pieces of trash as they wandered the campgrounds. Well done, everyone.
It was great to see the discussions about sustainable camping at the Festivarian Forum both before and after the festival. The “green campsite challenge” has received well over 100 responses with nearly 4,000 views.
For those Festivarians attending Rocky Grass and Folks Fest, be sure to go green and enter the â€œHow Green Is Your Grassâ€ Campsite Challenge at each of these Lyons festivals. We’ll be offering on-site camping passes for 2009 to the winners at each festival. (Check out the details for the RockyGrass contest and the Folks Fest contest.
The press tent at Telluride Bluegrass was abuzz with the topic of sustainability. My favorite quote was from Craig Shelburne of CMT.com: “I have never heard the word ’sustainable’ so much in my life.”
Steve Szymanski stopped by the press area on Friday evening for a lengthy discussion about “sustainable festivation” with Daniel Costello, Program Director of KVNF (Paonia, CO). The 25-minute interview aired July 7 on the KVNF Midday Edition.
Daniel is not afraid to ask the tough questions: what does it mean to be “carbon neutral?” How do we really calculate the festival’s carbon footprint? How do the festival vendors respond to our sustainability mandates?
It’s an interesting listen. And as an added bonus, occasionally you can hear Tim O’Brien performing on the main stage, taking place just a few hundred feet away.
The weekend before Telluride Bluegrass, Planet Bluegrass VP, Steve Szymanski, was a guest on the nationally syndicated radio show Living on Earth. The hour-long weekly show - devoted to environmental topics - airs on approximately 300 Public Radio stations.
A taste of the interview:
GELLERMAN: Steve do you think there’s something about bluegrass music that lends itself naturally to the message and behaviors you’re trying to change.
SYZMANSKI: You know I do, but I really think our venues out here in Colorado really just speak to the beauty and the pristine nature of Telluride. Folks immediately get itâ€”I think its wired in that this is a beautiful place, we need to keep this place beautiful, and we need to preserve it. And so we’re lucky enough I think to have nature in everyone’s face all the time and so I think it’s been a little easier messaging around that because it’s just so obvious that this kind of environment is only possible if we take care of our event.
At the 35th Telluride Bluegrass Festival, along with their guitars, banjos, mandolins, basses, dobros, fiddles, and drums, artists went on stage with their own Sustainable Festivation Klean Kanteens. Keeping with Planet Bluegrass sustainability vision, no plastic bottles were used backstage, instead each artist received a reusable stainless steel water bottle manufactured by Klean Kanteen, a California company. These bottles were very popular among the Festival artists - making appearances on stage, backstage, at Elks Park, at the artist signings at the Country Store, and throughout town.
The system wasn’t perfect, but we held to our pledge of having no bottled water backstage/onstage. On the occasion when artists would forget to bring their bottles on-stag we filled a compostable cup with local water. - certainly an improvement over a single-use bottle of water trucked in from far away.
Abigail Washburn had this to say about the Klean Kanteens- “I’ve been looking for a non-plastic option for a reusable water container for a long time… the kanteen was perfect. I’m far away from telluride now and I’m still using it everyday.” (Speaking of Abby: check out the videos she made backstage at Telluride Bluegrass for USAToday.com.)
In the front of house, Festivarians had the opportunity to fill up their own reusable bottles at the free filtered water station. (Here’s a water thread over at the Festivarian Forum.) Over the course of the festival, festivarians consumed 10,160 gallons of water from the station. That’s a somewhat smaller number than we were expecting - given 10,000 thirsty Festivarians per day for 4 days. But this amount of water dispensed from the station is the equivalent of 3,387 cases of 16oz water bottles. Not an insignificant number.
Hereâ€™s to you, Festivarians, for helping reduce the amount of plastic water bottles consumed, and showing that drinking local is the way to go. To continue in the Drink Local attitude, choose to drink from your tap rather than a single-use plastic bottle.
We sold-out of our limited supply of bottles at the Country Store. They sold about as quickly as we could take them out of the box. (Oh, and nice job Klean Kanteen on the intelligent packaging: the bottles were shipped many to a box, instead of being individually boxed.) We’ll have more stainless steel bottles to sell to Festivarians at RockyGrass and the Folks Festival with our Sustainable Festivation logo. But it’s not the brand of bottle that matters - it’s the concept of reusing a water bottle. And for that, any water bottle you have in your kitchen should do the trick. Just don’t forget to bring it with you. Everywhere you go.