Campsite Challenge

2014 winners: Camp Blow It Out
2014 winners: Camp Blow It Out

To extend the spirit of Sustainable Festivation into the campgrounds, Planet Bluegrass invites you to enter the 7th Annual How Green is your Grass? Campsite Challenge.

Coordinated by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, the contest encourages all of us to raise the bar for sustainable and creative camping. All entrants are eligible for random daily prizes, while campsites that excel in achieving the highest levels of the Leave No Trace philosophy could win camping and 4-day passes for the 2016 festival.

How Do I Enter?

The contest is open to all campers in any of the Planet Bluegrass-managed campgrounds. To nominate your own campsite or one of your neighbors:

  1. Leave No TraceComplete the 1-page campsite entry form at the Leave No Trace booth inside the festival. (Download a PDF of the entry form now.)
  2. Stop by the Leave No Trace booth each day to view all the campsite entries. Each day we select 2 winners (one chosen by our staff, one chosen at random) for daily prizes.
  3. Planet Bluegrass will select the grand prize winner after the campground pack-out is complete on Monday. The grand prize winner will receive camping and 4-day passes for the 2016 Telluride Bluegrass.

How Do I Win?

We will be judging on three simple criteria:

  1. Cleanliness. Are you repackaging the food you bring? Are you keeping a tidy campsite? Are items secure and not susceptible to wind gusts? Are you safely disposing of cigarette butts?
  2. Voting at the LNT booth
    Voting at the Leave No Trace booth
    Sustainability. Are you separating your recyclables, compostables, and then placing them in the correct bins at the campsite waste stations? Are you reusing products (cups, utensils, water bottles, bags) instead of trashing them? Are you using any alternative energy sources to power your campsite? Did you bike or carpool to the festival; are you offsetting carbon emissions using wind credits or carbon offsets? Will you pack out as much as possible when leaving? Did you do anything to reduce your homes’ energy while attending the festival?
  3. Creativity. Does your campsite have a theme? Did you decorate your campsite with lights, flags, or banners?Are you utilizing any unique and innovative camping techniques? Are you cooking any creative camping recipes? Are you upcycling any items from home?

What Do I Win?

Random winners will be chosen each day to win: New Belgium beer, Kelty gear, Klean Kanteen products, Leave No Trace memberships, and fun stuff from Planet Bluegrass.

One grand prize winner will be selected after the campground pack-out on Monday from the daily finalists. This grand prize winner will receive a pair of 4-day passes and camping (in the campground of your choice) for the 2016 Festival.

Some Tips from Leave No Trace

  1. Voting at the LNT booth
    Bigfoot at Telluride Bluegrass
    Before you arrive, repackage food into reusable containers. This will limit how much waste you bring to the fest and keep your camp that much cleaner.
  2. Re-use is the name of the game. Bring re-usable cups, plates, napkins, etc. This will reduce the amount of trash you generate.
  3. Good campsites are found, not made. Bring folding tables, chairs, or other amenities to make a comfortable camp. Remember to take everything you brought with you, and leave the area better than you found it.
  4. Establish a clean and green camping community. Work together with other nearby campers to share your resources and strive to Leave No Trace in a fun and festive manner.
  5. Secure your food. Human food is unhealthy for wildlife. Protect the locals and your food by storing all your food, trash, and compost securely in your camp.

2014 Winners

With so many great campsites, we couldn't choose just 1 winner in 2014. So... congratulations to the 2014 Campsite Challenge co-winners: Camp Blow It Out and BoBCO (Bluegrass on Bycycle Colorado). They both received free 4-day passes and camping for the 2015 festival.

Camp Blow It Out
Camp Blow It Out
Warner Field campground
With their motto of "minimizing our footprint while maximizing our fun," this large camp (13 adults and 6 kids) from Flagstaff, AZ has been inspiring fellow Telluride Bluegrass campers for more than a decade.

Camp leader Amanda Acheson tells us: "Telluride and all its charm and beauty inspire our love of nature and community; Planet Bluegrass' festival is so much fun that everyone in attendance dances, sings, and laughs like no one is watching; while at the same time, Telluride Bluegrass is a model for practicing and supporting sustainable practices. This inspires our camp to celebrate and enjoy the beauty, music, people and activities while mentoring to our kids on the importance of being respectful and resourceful. That way the fun, music, and beauty can be a part of festivarian lives for many generations to come!

She followed that up with an amazing, tongue-twisting medley in Gaelic that garnered a second standing ovation. Giddens was the talk of the lobby during intermission and at the exclusive party afterwards. "Who on Earth was that," people excitedly said to each other, "and where can we go to hear more?" Backstage, the savvy Burnett already knew the answer and was immediately moved to ask if he could produce a record with her. The stunning result of their collaboration, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which deftly incorporates folk, jazz, gospel and the blues, will be Giddens' solo debut record in early 2015.

"It was clear the first time I heard her at rehearsal that Rhiannon is next in a long line of singers that includes Marian Anderson, Ethel Waters, Rosetta Tharp, Odetta, Mahalia Jackson, and Nina Simone," Burnett says. "We need that person in our culture. She is, in fact, that person in our culture."

Giddens' buzz-generating Town Hall performance has luckily been preserved in a double-disc live recording, to be released on Nonesuch Records (also in early 2015) and in a documentary that aired on Showtime last winter.

A mere two days after that star turn, Giddens was impressing the cast and crew on the set of Showtime's Nurse Jackie, playing a Brooklyn square-dance caller in a scene that would be among the most memorable of the last season. The role harkened back to Giddens' own entry into the world of old-time music.

Enrolled at Oberlin Conservatory, studying opera, Giddens began to do contra-dance calling on the weekends. At first a playful musical detour, it prefigured the unique course her career would take.

Reviving, interpreting, and recasting traditional material from a variety of sources has been central to Giddens' career, especially in her groundbreaking work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops (CCDs), who also routinely bring sold-out concert audiences to their feet. With their two Nonesuch albums, Genuine Negro Jig (2010, Grammy winner) and Leaving Eden (2012) the CCDs have shared the role African-American performers and songwriters played in U.S. folk-music history, while making recordings that are vital, contemporary, and exuberant.

Iconic choreographer Twyla Tharp was so entranced by their work that she created Cornbread Duet, a dance piece set to a suite of songs by Carolina Chocolate Drops that had its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Giddens' journey, in a larger sense, began in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, where she was raised—an area with a rich legacy of old-time music, black and white, that Giddens would explore in depth after college. She met her original CCDs band-mates at 2005's Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, NC, and got schooled in the Piedmont's traditional music by Joe Thompson, an elderly African-American fiddle player who passed on to Giddens and her cohorts many of the songs that would comprise their early repertoire.

Giddens is an American original—an artist with an unforgettable voice who culls the music of our collective past to point the way to the future, one in which her name will surely be well-known from the moment she steps on a stage. [less...]

This contest has added to our camp traditions, it has become a part of our conversations, a part of our planning and actions, and it brings a fun challenge to Camp Blow it Out to keep practicing and mentoring ways of 'reducing the waste but not the good times.

Tip for Festivarian campers: "Reduce the waste: use renewable and reusable (solar lights, rechargeable batteries, kegs for beer, water containers), compost, recycle, and buy items that have minimized packaging. Reducing our waste is a great way to make our Festivarian footprints much smaller."
Camp BoBCO

Camp BoBCO (Bluegrass On Bike Colorado)
Town Park campground
This small camp from Crested Butte, CO inspired us by their commitment to simplicity and a minimal footprint, traveling to the festival on their bicycles.

"We've bicycled to TBF four times," says camp co-leader Gary Dotzler. "We only have what we can carry on our bikes. What we have found, comparing to the many times we have driven, is that having less stuff, we have way less stress. For example, finding a camping spot, even in town park is simple. Not having a cooler becomes a blessing (no ice needed, no cans to recycle).  No camp chairs, no worries! There seem to be 1,000 unused chairs at any one time. And it goes on. 

I feel that bicycling to a festival takes sustainability one step further. That's one reason I created the BoBCO (Bluegrass on Bicycle, Colorado) idea: my love of festivals and bicycle touring coupled with Colorado's June festival list (Pagosa, Palisades, TBF).  A perfect storm for a perfectly sustainable festival experience.

Tip for Festivarian campers: "Simplifying our festival footprint made our enjoyment quotient skyrocket.  There is so much less stress, it's crazy."
Thanks to these and many many other thoughtful, creative, sustainable campsites. Congratulations to everyone who helped make this possible. Give them a virtual pat on the back over at the Festivarian Forum.

For More Information

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is an educational, nonprofit organization dedicated to the responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors by all people, worldwide. Visit at or call 1-800-332-4100