On to 2nd annual ‘Fiddles’

       Sometimes a “first annual” event turns out to be an only annual. The Ackermans, a  family bluegrass group (from left, dad
Randy and high schoolers Aaron, Rebekah and Jeremy) play on the stage at the back of the Orchard House. 
Westside Pioneer photo
       That won't be the case for the “Fiddles, Vittles and Vino” bluegrass festival, which sold more than 850 tickets to its inaugural date Aug. 27 at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.
       The 11-hour event offered nine bands at three ranch venues, as well as four hours of food- and wine-tasting by close to 50 area restaurants and wineries/distributors.
       “It went great,” said Andy Morris, site caretaker and co-organizer of the event. “Everybody was pleased. There was a good crowd, and the people who were there loved it. The bluegrass musicians had a good time, everyone was raving about the quality of the food, and I heard the wine was good.”
       Asked about a second annual festival, Morris said, “Oh, you bet. We've already got the date picked - Aug. 26 of next year.”
       He said Rock Ledge hopes to double the crowd next year, because of people telling friends how much fun they had, and by the third year, “we should really be rocking and rolling.”
       Both Morris and Cheryl Catalano, lead interpreter for the ranch, said they will be looking at ways to have an even better second annual. “The first year is the learning curve,” she said. “We'll tweak it for next year.”
       One improvement will be to put the food and wine areas together on the Orchard House front lawn, she said. This year they were on opposite sides of the manor (built by William Palmer in 1907), with one of the music stages facing toward its back lawn, where the wine area was. Festival-goers take in the Stanleytones at the main stage in
the early evening. At left in background is the Rock Ledge House. 
Westside Pioneer photo
       Planners will also be looking at the amount of food, she added. As it was, most of the chefs had run out before the announced 7 p.m. tasting cut-off.
       But the festival concept - combining bluegrass with food/wine tasting - is not going to change. “We felt it was an event that's due in Colorado Springs,” she said. “We certainly want it to continue.”
       Morris praised Rock Ledge volunteer Mark Gardner (who was also one of the musicians) for doing “a good job getting first- rate bluegrass bands.”
       The lead bands - Sons and Brothers and the Badly Bent - had both won major bluegrass competitions in the past two years.
       The festival was a fund-raiser for Rock Ledge Ranch, an 1880s-style working ranch which gets a subsistence budget from City Parks but needs additional funds for restoration efforts.
       “We put on a quality show with quality bands, and it will continue to grow,” Morris said.

Westside Pioneer article