Fiddles, Vittles & Vino – yes, Rock Ledge really is hosting it again this year

       In past years, promotional efforts for the annual Fiddles, Vittles & Vino at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site would have started three or four weeks ago.
       … Except that around then this year the Waldo Canyon Fire was at its height. The blaze came less than a mile from Rock Ledge Ranch - the Fiddles location - shutting it down for several days under an evacuation order and forcing ranch manager Andy Morris to relocate some of the animals.
       But the fire is under control now and the ranch is reopened, and Morris and others are trying to catch up with getting the word out that this year's Fiddles, Vittles & Vino - Sunday, July 29 from 2:30 to 9 p.m. - could be the biggest in its eight-year history.
       According to a spokes-person, James Africano, the number of food vendors is up again, and if the 32 who have confirmed all come through, the event will have seven more than the actual number that set up in 2011. Most of them are local restaurants. “We've got some new ones and all the old ones are coming back,” said Africano, head chef at the Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico and president of Club Nine, a group of area chefs and restaurant owners who helped found the festival in 2005 as part of an ongoing effort to support Rock Ledge as a historic working ranch.
       For the price of a ticket, the event offers live music and all the sampling of food (from main course-type items to side dishes to desserts) and liquor (mostly wine and beer) that a person is willing and able to take in (until nothing is left).
       As has become the format in recent years, there will be four bands, one of them the previous year's winner of Rockygrass (an annual festival in Lyons, Colo.), two of them nationally touring bands and one of them local. The 2011 Rockygrass winner is 23 String (from Kentucky), the other national bands are Red June (from North Carolina) and Monroeville (from Tennessee) and the local band is the Mitguards, who previously played at the 2006 Fiddles event.
       According to Mark Gardner, who organizes the music each year, the 2012 groups represent “more of an Americana lineup” than in the past. He described the band styles overall as “more folk oriented, as opposed to traditional bluegrass.”
       Tickets are $35 for adults ($10 for ages 12 and under) until July 22, going up to $40 and $15 from then until the day of the event. Tickets are also available at the gate, although the 2011 Fiddles sold out. The same number of tickets (1,200) have been printed this year to avoid long lines and overcrowding, Gardner said.
       Rock Ledge Ranch is a historically styled working ranch off Gateway Road at 30th Street. The event is a fundraiser for the city-owned facility, which relies heavily on volunteer help and donations to stay open. This year, however, 25 percent of the profits will go “to support those impacted by the Waldo Canyon Fire,” according to the Fiddles advertisement in this issue.
       For more information, call the ranch at 578-6777 or go to the website at fiddlesvittlesandvino.com.

Westside Pioneer article