Dolores River Fest kicks off summer

Parade rafters enjoy the rapids during last year's Dolores River Festival. Enlargephoto

File photo

Parade rafters enjoy the rapids during last year's Dolores River Festival.

It’s summer festival time in Dolores.

Get ready to dance barefoot on the grass listening to great music with all your friends and neighbors this Saturday at Joe Rowell Park.

And this year, organizers of the Dolores River Festival raised the bar, bringing in national bands along with local superstars.

“We’re really excited about the diversity this year,” said festival director Elaine Chick. “A slightly higher ticket price allowed us to raise the caliber of our acts.”

Tickets are sold at the event for $15, up from $10 last year. Kids 12 and under are free. The festival is the main fundraiser for Greater Dolores Action, a project-oriented group that focuses on community enhancement and river education.

The lineup Saturday crescendos from smooth morning shows featuring choirs and singer-songwriters, then transitioning to an apex of furious bass-slapping dance music as the sun sets.

Rowdy Shadehouse is the headliner, featuring an extravaganza of high-energy funk mania sure to get everyone on their feet. (See story) The Denver funk band is bringing down the house at Front Range venues and plans to do the same on their first visit to Dolores. The show begins at 6:15 p.m.

In the wacky tradition of Parliament Funk, the band is fond of wild stage antics and ridiculous costumes including band members decking out in hilarious-looking “silk skin.”

“This fun, funky jam band really gets a groove going, perfect for rocking out and dancing under the summer sun,” Chick says.

Reggae with a message of empowerment will warm up the crowd when Casper Lomayesva, a Hopi tribal member, takes the stage with his band at 4:15 p.m. (See story) Inspired by the reggae greats who regularly played at the Hopi Nation, Casper and the 602 Band learned from the masters and do not disappoint.

“If Bob Marley were alive, he would have come to the reservation,” Lomayesva said. “I was raised on reggae, peace and unity. Our music is a tribal stew, you never know what your going to get, but you know it will be good. We’re passing on native consciousness through our music.”

At 2:30 pm get ready for a new sound you won’t soon forget. Groove Master PAA KOW fuses rhythm and artistry from his home in Ghana with Jazz and African Pop.

If it all sounds different from our countrified roots, and that is by design, Chick says.

“We have so many blue-grass and folk festivals, we try and stay away from that. Those already exist, so we offer some different music styles with a fun groove.”

Singer songwriter Jaden Carlson and the Heartbeat, a Telluride-based a capella women’s choir will both fill the air with sweet harmonies earlier in the day. Side stage performers (Tweeners) will be Cowboy Sushi, Yearning for Yeti, and the Big Momma Donna Band.

The festival has a music budget of $12,000 to $13,000 per year, and it is has been slowly growing to provide a top notch festival experience at a fraction of the costs of a Telluride act.

“We added a lot of enhancements this year,” Chick says. “We keep the costs down by enlisting more than 100 volunteers.”

The family event features all sorts of fun activities throughout the day.

A change this year will be the time of the costume river parade. Instead of in the morning it will begin at 3:30 p.m. at Riverside Park. At 4 p.m. the Grand Entry conga line will march through the festival, and prizes will be handed out for best costume.

“It is an anything goes wacky-circus type theme,” Chick says. “It’s all about fun and celebrating the river and the community.”

Another fun event is the Zuke’s-sponsored River Dog Contest! Sign up at the Zuke’s booth between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for a time slot for your dog to be in the contest. The contest takes place from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The owner gets a tennis ball, throws it out in the river to a distance set by Zuke’s (owner has up to 3 attempts to get ball to the right distance in the water), timer is started, the dog is timed fetching and the dog with the quickest retrieval time wins an awesome dog-prize!

Adult fun is offered at the KSJD Dryland Saloon serving up beer and wine. Eight food vendors will be ready to take your order as well.

And the family event will offer a fantastic array of kid activities run by professionals. The Pinon project will be offering superhero tattoos; a booth will take a child’s picture then they paint and decorate the frame; the Montezuma School to Farm project will be offering fun activities for kids; the Cortez Library will be telling kid stories every 30 minutes; and there will be stone painting and bubble blowing stations, obstacle course, watermelon eating contests, bracelet making, and a hula-hoop contest.

On top of that, the Crested Butte Dance Collective will return with their circus acts and aerial presentations. There will be opportunity for kids to take free lessons on the flying swing contraption.

Cool off with free raft rides from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., another Dolores Festival tradition. Sign up at the Dolores River Boating Advocates booth for raft rides piloted by experienced boaters from Riverside Park to the festival grounds. There will be a shuttle from the festival to the put-in.

“There is so much love and passion put into this festival. It can only happen with the support of our community and all of our volunteers,” Chick said. “It is a wonderful event that is not to be missed.”

Dog policy: Well-behaved dogs are welcome at the festival. Owners must pick up after their dogs.

Sam Green/Journal File photo

Bob Barker skims across the water to retrieve a tennis ball during the water dog competition at last year’s Dolores River Festival. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Journal File photo Bob Barker skims across the water to retrieve a tennis ball during the water dog competition at last year’s Dolores River Festival.