Show goes on despite wet day at Rock Ledge

       Four bluegrass bands played, but the weather was the main performer at Rock Ledge Ranch's fifth annual Fiddles, Vittles & Vino July 25.
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Steadfast bluegrass fans stand in the rain to listen to Anne & Pete Sibley perform (to stay dry, the duo were situated inside the back doorway of the Orchard House) during Fiddles, Vittles & Vino at Rock Ledge Ranch July 25. The fifth annual food, drink and music event drew an estimated 500 to 800 people.
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       Lightning and sometimes torrential rain forced Anne & Pete Sibley to scratch the first of their three scheduled gigs on the main stage and to play inside the back doorway of the Orchard House for their second one, while the Acme Bluegrass Band - after suffering initially from rain dripping through a protective tarp over their heads on the Orchard House stage - relocated to one of the food tents where they played acoustically and bantered with listeners standing only a few feet away.
       Otherwise, the six-hour event went basically as planned, with more than 40 food or drink booths available to ticket-buyers and, thanks to the rain letting up by about 6 p.m., the other gigs happening on schedule.
       “The chefs and all their folks did a wonderful job,” said ranch manager Andy Morris. “The musicians too. No one whined or cried. They know these things can happen, so they just moved on.”
       Sebie Denson of Acme said this was not the first time this summer that weather has put the band close to the crowd that way. “Sometimes it's a little more fun,” he said. “You get a chance to talk to the audience.”
       Morris also was impressed by the crowd. In the first years of Fiddles, Vittles & Vino, it had seemed as if the audience was mostly interested in the latter two parts of the event title. But this year especially, Morris thought he saw “more people who were there for the music, and the food was a bonus.”
       The High 48s, from Minnesota, and Palmer Divide were the other musical groups. Anne & Pete Sibley are from Jackson Hole, Wyo. Acme and Palmer Divide are bands from this area. The High 48s came in with particularly high marks, having won the 2008 RockyGrass competition in Lyons, Colo.
       It's been a tough season, weather-wise, for Rock Ledge live music events, with both of its free concerts earlier this summer slammed by rain. With Fiddles, a downpour started almost on cue around the 3 p.m. starting time. This probably cut into the “walk-up” attendance, according to Morris. But advance sales had been strong. Although final figures were not available at press time, he estimated that 500 to 800 people in all bought tickets (compared with the record of 1,000 last year).
       The event is a fundraiser for the ranch. Owned by the city, the 230-acre site operates with a few employees and a lot of volunteers from the ranch's Living History Association. About 30 of them helped out in different ways at Fiddles (including taking tickets, providing information and picking up trash), Morris said.

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