History of the Wildflower Theater

The Original Wildflower Theater

Planet Bluegrass President Craig Ferguson clearly remembers opening the crusty doors on one of the buildings at the ranch at 500 West Main in the early 1990s. Peeling back the cobwebs, he was shocked to find that this building was setup as an intimate concert hall, complete with a stage and pews for seats. This was what Planet Bluegrass was looking for: a beautiful riverside property to hold music festivals and a small venue to hold concerts throughout the year.

They purchased the property, renaming it the Planet Bluegrass Ranch, and began presenting shows in the "Wildflower Theater" for several years. These shows were magical - filled with 100 people listening to some of the finest names in acoustic music.

Darrell Scott plays the Wildflower Tent in November 2006
Wildflower Tent

On the night of Wednesday, April 23, 1997, a heavy wet snow began to fall on Lyons and the following night's Wildflower concert with Dan Bern had to be cancelled. It was the right decision, as sometime during the night of April 24, 1997, the build-up of over 100 tons of snow collapsed the Wildflower Theater roof. All remaining Wildflower Theater shows were cancelled.

The Wildflower Tent

The need for a large performance and workshop space during the Festivals (RockyGrass, Folks Fest, and Festival of the Mabon) and Academies (RockyGrass Academy and the Song School) prompted Planet Bluegrass to purchase a large white tent - dubbed the "Wildflower Tent" in memory of the collapsed Theater.

This tent hosted instrument and band contests during RockyGrass, as well as performance workshops, songwriters-in-the-round, and the Friday night pre-Mabon Ceili dance. Many Song School students fondly remember the open mike performances under the Wildflower Tent - many wonderful new performers honed their craft under that tent.

The dirt floor - source of much dust during dance workshops - was replaced with astroturf during the winter of 2006.

Concerts in the Wildflower Tent

In the Fall of 2006 Planet Bluegrass decided to expand the summer festival season by holding several intimate shows in the Wildflower Tent. Hay bales lined the floor, stage curtains were made, and heaters were purchased to allow for shows during the winter months.

Darrell Scott plays the Wildflower Tent in November 2006
Darrell Scott plays the Tent in November 2006

Darrell Scott christened the new Wildflower Tent shows with a remarkable solo performance on November 5. The room was warm and very packed - tickets to that concert were sold-out a week before the show.

A second sold-out show with Wayword Sons followed several weeks later, including a pre-show organic cookout and a late-night bonfire along the St. Vrain. Everyone was in agreement: this was the start of something great.

Winds that fall had taken a heavy toll on the Ranch as numerous large trees were taken down during several November wind storms. But it was again a heavy, wet snowstorm that proved the demise of the Wildflower Tent as the tent poles collapsed several weeks after the second show.

Construction of the Wildflower Pavilion

Construction on the Pavilion begins
Construction on the Pavilion begins

Energized by the prospect of shows throughout the year, and Festivarians enjoying the property during the other three seasons, Planet Bluegrass began the process of designing and seeking approval for a new year-round permanent pavilion in the winter of 2007.

Following a successful hearing on March 19, 2007, construction began on the new 4800 square-foot pavilion...