Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. The 16th annual NedFest was another step in the evolution of this phenomenal musical event. Young adults, old hippies, and families with children have always been a part of the high altitude festival, but this year was the beginning of seeing the event as a showcase for young local talent.
Rain is always an issue. Friday night’s shower put a damper on the bands for a short period of time, but didn’t stop Billy Nershi fans from gathering under umbrellas and cheering just as loud as if it were a balmy warm evening.
There was plenty to keep the crowd entertained during the tune-ups. A corner of the Guercio Ball Field was reserved for children’s activities including the mega log see-saw which could hold half a dozen kids on one side and sometimes did. There was a bubble bounce, a sand box, and a tent filled with arts and crafts.
The vendor food this year was diverse and delicious. In one corner a famished festival fan had a choice of Asian dumplings, tacos made real Mexican style, Kathmandu Indian food, Greek food, and of course the usual hot dog, hamburger, bratwurst, barbecue American food.
Clothes vendors brought the color to the festival The Super Rad Cape Co. tent was constantly filled with someone trying on one of the glittery, neon-colored capes, twisting and turning in front of the mirror to see how they looked from the back. Although the capes were top notch and pricey, enough people purchased them to make owners and designers Sahra & Jeffrey say they would be back next year.
“We sell the capes at many music festival and see people return every year wearing what they bought in previous years.”
Local craft beers and wines, including Nederland’s Very Nice Brewing Company, staved off the thirst of the crowd.
The NedFest runway featured tie-dye and layered long skirts with striped knee socks and purple tinted hair and peace beads and fringes.
Reports from the Nederland Police Department say that the festival was mostly peaceful with a few cases of overindulgence and some people trying to get in without paying.
The headliner bands Jeff Austin, Kyle Hollingsworth, Robert Randolph and the Family, and Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett drew in the crowd and drove them to a musical frenzy as each night neared the end.
On Sunday at noon, Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center put the spotlight on Dave Williams and Jill Dreves as they sang children’s songs about animals. The Colorado Bluegrass Music Society’s Young Pickers, who worked all summer long on learning their guitars and banjos and mandolins, brought the audience to their feet, whistling and cheering and stamping their feet to the amazing sound of 18 stringed instruments synchronizing and harmonizing.
Then five local teens took the stage and charmed the audience with their skill and sweet voices blending as the sound men scurried around making sure the mikes were the right height for their voices.
The kids’ performances added a balance to NedFest, bringing in the local element and the romantic dream that musicians harbor when they are first allowed to perform in front of a large audience.
At some point all of the big name musicians that performed over the weekend were young and unknown, working hard and practicing to someday step on stage and have an audience in the palm of their hand.
That is one of the aims of NedFest and it was beautifully fulfilled last weekend.