Colorado's Summer Mountain Music Festivals Are Canceling Fast

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is one of many mountain music festivals in Colorado that aren't happening in summer 2020.
The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is one of many mountain music festivals in Colorado that aren't happening in summer 2020. Kenzie Bruce

click to enlarge The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is one of many mountain music festivals in Colorado that aren't happening in summer 2020. - KENZIE BRUCE
The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is one of many mountain music festivals in Colorado that aren't happening in summer 2020.
Kenzie Bruce
The folks at Planet Bluegrass have historically put on three of the biggest music festivals in Colorado, including Telluride Bluegrass, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest and RockyGrass, but all three are canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

When Planet Bluegrass announced last month that the 47th Telluride Bluegrass Festival was being canceled for the first time ever, Planet Bluegrass president Craig Ferguson said that the scheduling of the festivals at Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons, including RockyGrass and Folks Fest, hadn't been addressed yet, and that he was awaiting guidance from Governor Jared Polis. But in a recent post on the organization's website, Ferguson announced that the Lyons festivals would be canceled as well.

"The time has come to say it out loud — the fields of Planet Bluegrass will lie fallow for the 2020 festival season," Ferguson wrote. "Obvious and unbelievable. Oh, how we will miss you. Oh, how we’ll miss ourselves when we’re with you!"

In the same post, Ferguson wrote that Planet Bluegrass will send out emails shortly explaining refund policies.

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival cancellation was just the first of the tough decisions. "This is the easiest and most difficult decision that Planet Bluegrass has ever made; and, just when we had summoned the courage to finally announce to the world, John Prine passed," Ferguson wrote at the time. "These words have been erased a dozen times. Neither fire, nor flood. A bug.

"It is a devastating realization that the very reason for the existence of Planet Bluegrass is unsafe to festivarians at this time," he added. "And far more devastating for the artists to feel the very purpose of their soul should not be expressed, at a time it’s needed most. We know the word has leaked out and apologize we haven’t had a public announcement while we’ve scurried to have personal conversations with 'the family.' It’s a big family, and the conversations are tender."

In other summer festival news, Telluride Jazz Festival just announced the cancellation of this year's festival, which is now scheduled to return August 13 through August 15 of 2021.

"It is with deep disappointment and great sadness that I write to you today to announce that we have had to make the difficult decision to postpone this summer's 44th Annual Telluride Jazz Festival," executive director Peter Bell said in announcing the cancellation. "Our festival has persevered every year since 1977, through torrential rains, summer snowstorms, airline strikes, recessions and other challenges, but this year the only way to meet the challenge of keeping you — our valued audience members, our staff, and the many performers who perform on our stage — safe is to wait until next year."

RIDE Festival, which was slated to be in Telluride in July, also announced that this summer's event will be pushed until next year.

"As eternal optimists, we’ve been waiting patiently in hopes that this global pandemic would be under control by mid-July so that we could come together in our annual celebration of summer and music in the mountains of Telluride," wrote festival director Todd Creel in a Facebook post. "Despite our highest hopes, we recognize that’s not the case and it’s time to announce that we have no other option than to cancel this year’s RIDE Festival and begin planning for 2021. The health and safety of our visitors, crew, artists and staff is and always will be our first priority."

Other festivals around the state that have been postponed:

ARISE Music Festival postponed its festival until next year but held a virtual festival earlier this month.

Blues From the Top, slated for June in Winter Park, will return in June 2021.

Colorado Music Festival, set for Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder from late June to early August, was canceled but is transitioning toward a virtual version of the festival.

Country Jam, one of the biggest country festivals in the country, won't be happening this year in Grand Junction, but will return in June 2021.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass's JAS June Experience and Labor Day Weekend have been postponed until next year.

Sonic Bloom, the four-day EDM-centric festival in Rye, has been rescheduled for June 2021. 
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon