Pouring their heart and soul into Four Corners Folk Festival


There is a sense of excitement in the air as the final touches are being put in place for the 19th annual Four Corners Folk Festival.

Campers were lined up Wednesday morning in droves at the base of Reservoir Hill, waiting for the gates to officially open.

According to festival executive director Crista Munro, “Tomorrow, Reservoir Hill will come alive with the sound of music — folk, bluegrass, indie and newgrass music, that is.

“The 19th annual Four Corners Folk Festival takes place this weekend, Aug. 29-31, and will feature performances from Sarah Jarosz, The Oh Hellos, Baskery, Caravan of Thieves, Sunliner, Paper Bird, Heather Maloney/Darlingside, Shook Twins, Marley’s Ghost, Beth Wood, Steep Ravine, Haas Kowert Tice, Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys and festival headliners: Elephant Revival, the Sam Bush Band, and Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott.”

Thousands of people of all ages will once again converge from all around the country for three days of live performances, workshops, campfire jams and children’s programs that are the backbone of the popular, music-filled weekend.

The Four Corners Folk Festival is a family friendly event, offering free admission to children 12 and under (must be accompanied by an adult), as well as free children’s programs with arts and crafts, magic shows, special musical performances and workshops for aspiring young musicians and their families.

Former SUN editor Karl Isberg wrote about the festival, “The first year, 1996, occurred following what Dan Appenzeller called a ‘what if?’ moment. ‘What if’ became reality and a major attraction. When Munro and Appenzeller formed the non-profit FolkWest and continued to produce the festival, few could have predicted the success and the benefit to this community.

“That first year saw a couple nationally known names on the bill — John McEuen and John Hartford. Since then, the Labor Day festival has consistently shown how wide the label ‘folk music’ is, bringing in headliners that range from hybrid bluegrass (The Punch Brothers) to jazz (Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), Texas roadhouse rock ’n roll (Delbert McClinton), East LA-bred rock (Los Lobos), Celtic (Natalie MacMaster) and blues (Keb Mo). These luminaries, and many others, playing other styles, have propelled the festival to the heights.

“To debate whether or not the festival makes any significant economic impact on the community is a waste of time. The upcoming event will attract an average of more than 3,000 persons per day, with at least 10,000 expected for the three days. People can quibble about the total economic input to the area, but this stands meaningless when one considers what the festival (and the first-of-summer companion Folk ’N Bluegrass Festival) does for Pagosa Country. It is far more than mere dollars.

“If any event gets the word out about Pagosa Country, this is it. Music lovers across the country, and in other countries, know where we are because of the festival. It is one of Pagosa’s primary magnets.

“Further, the Reservoir Hill site is legendary among festivalgoers.”

Munro and Appenzeller moved away from Pagosa a few years ago due to health issues. Yet they still pour their heart and soul into producing world-class festivals in Pagosa Springs and making the 140-acre ponderosa pine forest on Reservoir Hill come alive with the sound of music.

Terri Lynn Oldham House