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Carbondale Celebrates Local Farmers And Artists At Dandelion Day And First Friday

Courtesy of Carbondale Tourism
At Dandelion Day on Saturday (May 8), Carbondale will be unveiling a new farm guide and map, illustrated by local artist Sarah Uhl, to connect visitors and residents to the local food and farming scene.

As things warm up across the Valley, Carbondale is looking to attract tourists and locals alike with two days of events and a new printed pocket guide to the area’s local food locations. 

Carbondale Unveils Agrotourism Map


Sarah-Jane Johnson with Carbondale Tourism helped create the map, and she says the idea behind it is to connect visitors and locals with the town’s deeply rooted agricultural history and ranching culture. 


“Beginning with the Ute Indians who hunted the fertile lands, then later in the 1880s settlers began to harvest the land, supplying regional mining communities with beef, potatoes, and grains. At that time, the Roaring Fork Valley produced more potatoes than the entire state of Idaho,” Johnson wrote in a statement about the new visitor map. “Today, Carbondale’s unique ranching and farming legacy continues to thrive.”


The map, which is illustrated by local artist Sarah Uhl, includes the area’s farms, ranches, public gardens and small businesses including local favorites ranging from ranchers Nieslanik Beef Farms, to vegetable producers Wild Mountain Seeds, to the Latino Folk Art Garden located along Carbondale’s ARTway.


Johnson said they also wanted to highlight farm-to-table eateries, like the gourmet vegetarian restaurant The Beat, that are making a point to serve locally-sourced ingredients in their dishes. 


“I'm excited for this map to come out because I think having greater visibility for local food is really important and will push it even further,” said Lucy Perutz, the chef and co-owner of The Beat. “I think it'll show people that, ‘Oh, wow, this farm really is right in my backyard.’”


The Roaring Fork & Farm Map will be available at the town’s visitor center, and at local lodges, hotels, restaurants and small businesses throughout The Roaring Fork Valley.


Dandelion Day Returns  


After being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, Carbondale’s 23rd annual springtime flower celebration, Dandelion Day, is coming back to Sopris Park this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


“From its modest roots as a neighborhood event, this two-decades-old festival brings Sopris Park and our community buzzing to life,” said Natalie Rae Fuller, the lead organizer for Dandelion Day. “In 2021, we could all enjoy some connection, sustainability, live music and festivities!”


This year’s socially-distanced community gathering features live music including John Hatanaka and the Roaring Fork String Band (Natalie Spears and Lizzy Plotkin) as well as local food and artist vendors serving up everything from herbal plants and meats to handmade jewelry and ceramics.


“I like to call it a ‘glorified farmers’ market’ because you can come and get your plant starts for the summer, soaps and spices, plus there's local artists,” Fuller said. “And our main attractions are the farmers and ranchers.” 


Farms and ranches including Dooley Creek and Erin’s Acres will all be joining the festivities, and Fuller said if you’re lucky, you may get a sighting of one of local rancher Jose Miranda’s baby water buffalo. 


Saturday’s Dandelion Day, a collaboration among Carbondale Arts, the town’s Environmental Board and KDNK, will kick off with the annual “Parade of Species” down Main Street led by the local Ngoma Drum and Dance group.


First Friday Celebrations 


After a year of virtual celebrations, Carbondale is kicking off Mother’s Day weekend with an in-person First Friday event. Shops and galleries will be open with extended hours, and live music will be back on the stage at Fourth and Main streets. Entertainment on the downtown stage will also include flute music, Native American storytelling and an Eagle Dance by local performer Larry Yazzie. Restaurants will also offer extended outdoor dining options for passersby to stroll and sup while they wander the festivities.


Attendees will still have to abide by public health ordinances, like wearing masks. R2 Gallery manager Brian Colley said the gallery — and its visitors — are used to working with local ordinances, and they’re ready for some semblance of normalcy for May’s First Friday. The gallery is currently displaying two exhibitions, and will have an artist talk on the lawn outside the Launchpad for Friday evening’s event.


“We’ll have an art talk outside and then we’ve been doing sort of a filter funnel system through the gallery,” said Colley. “I’m just excited for people to come out and see the work since we have been doing everything virtually for so long.” 


Carbondale’s First Friday celebration runs from 5 to 9 p.m (Fri, May 7).


Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and "Morning Edition" anchor. She has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, creative efforts to solve the valley's affordable housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.
Kirsten was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has called Colorado home since 2008. She moved to Vail the day after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Before relocating to Basalt in 2020, she also spent a year living in one of Aspen’s sister cities, Queenstown, New Zealand.
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