Despite rain, Fiddles sells out for 3rd straight year

       The rains came and went, came and went.

At Rock Ledge Ranch's Fiddles, Vittles & Vino July 28... As I Draw Slow plays on the Pergola stage, dancers defy the raindrops.
Westside Pioneer photo

       But the party went on.
       Organizers are declaring the ninth annual Fiddles, Vittles & Vino July 28 a sellout for the third straight year.
       The nearly seven-hour festival at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site featured four bluegrass-style bands on two stages, offered around 40 tasting or imbibing opportunities and attracted well over 1,000 people.
       “This was absolutely a fantastic ninth year,” said Ron Wright, president of the ranch's Living History Association (LHA), a volunteer group that helped with the organizing and oversaw the gate. “Even with the rain, things seemed to click just right.”
       The actual number of tickets printed was 1,200, but between complimentary passes and tickets that were bought in advance but not used, “we'd call it a sellout,” said James Africano, president of Club 9, a group of restaurateurs that co-founded the event as a fundraiser for the agricultural aspects of the ranch. “I'd be shocked if we still had 100 tickets left over.”

At Rock Ledge Ranch's Fiddles, Vittles & Vino July 28... Mark Painter (right), aided by Charles Wear, works on an ice sculpture inside one of the tents that also served food and beverages.
Westside Pioneer photo

At Rock Ledge Ranch's Fiddles, Vittles & Vino July 28... Youngsters find fun in the mud puddles between rainstorms.
Westside Pioneer photo

       He estimated that after expenses - the restaurants and alcohol suppliers provided their food and drink for the event at no charge to the ranch - the event will net close to $10,000 for the city-owned ranch, which has relied in large part on donations and fundraising since the city budget cuts of 2010.
       An especially big hit with the Fiddles crowd was the band, I Draw Slow, from Dublin, Ireland, which inspired dancers even during a set played in a steady downpour.
       After being introduced with the comment that their music could convince Mother Nature to be less wet, I Draw Slow vocalist Louise Holden drew a chuckle from the crowd when she said, “I don't know why anyone would think that an Irish band could stop the rain. We invented it.”
       In the band's last set, closing out the event that evening, “there was a huge crowd, with dancing and lively stuff,” said Mark Gardner, an event organizer who had signed up the bands and also served as emcee on one of the stages. “People were able to convince them to do an encore, and that doesn't happen often.”

At Rock Ledge Ranch's Fiddles, Vittles & Vino July 28... Part of the Front Country band enjoy an inside joke during a song on the Peak View stage.
Westside Pioneer photo

       A recorded musician himself, Gardner even played a couple of solo songs that afternoon when one of the groups - the Honey Dewdrops (a husband-wife duo from Virginia) - were delayed by traffic. “I always bring a banjo in case that happens,” Gardner laughed.
       The two other bands at the event were Front Country from California's Bay Area, which has won two competitive Colorado bluegrass festivals in the past year; and Jody Adams and the String Dudes, a trio of long-time musicians from the Pikes Peak region.
       The only reported downside at this year's Fiddles involved a young man who'd had too much to drink and got belligerent. Wright said the individual was ejected.

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