A busy summer for Evergreen/Conifer

Planners are moving forward with events foothills residents know and love

Deb Hurley Brobst
dbrobst@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 4/28/21

The foothills will be alive this summer with the sound of … events! Most events are scheduled to take place — some with different dates, some with changed logistics — but with organizers …

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A busy summer for Evergreen/Conifer

Planners are moving forward with events foothills residents know and love

Posted

The foothills will be alive this summer with the sound of … events!

Most events are scheduled to take place — some with different dates, some with changed logistics — but with organizers thrilled that they can provide area residents with the traditions they are accustomed to after a 2020 where large gatherings came to a standstill.

Organizers hope people act responsibility and COVID-19 cases are low to keep new restrictions from being put in place, so their events come off without a hitch. For many, it’s full steam ahead though some are making adjustments to add in social-distancing opportunities.

They agree that area residents deserve to have ways to get together and celebrate their communities this summer.

From the new Memorial Day music festival to the Evergreen rodeo parade and rodeo, the rhubarb festival in Pine Grove, Summerfest, the Fine Arts Festival and more, there will be plenty to do this summer.

County perspective

Even with more people getting vaccinated against COVID-19, people still need to remain vigilant not to spread the virus, said Jim Rada, Jefferson County Public Health’s environmental health services division director.

“I know how important summer events are to communities, to the economy and to the local psyche,” Rada said, noting that his staff is receiving information requests from even organizers, and currently, there are no attendance restrictions for outdoor events, though hospitalizations will dictate whether requirements change.

“We trust that people will do the right things and do whatever they can to protect health,” Rada said. “We must continue to monitor this disease in our community because it’s not going away. If we start to see many more people going into the hospital or the increase in the number of deaths, we are going to have to take action to get it back under control.”

He said event organizers and the county public health department are working on ways that events can be modified to address preventing the disease’s spread.

“(It’s a matter of) maintaining and reestablishing our connections in our community while still observing cautions,” he said.

He continued to advocate for people to maintain distancing and wear masks when among people they don’t know well, and washing hands. He reminded people that having the vaccine immunity won’t guarantee 100% that people won’t contract the disease.

Planning events

“I decided to move forward with the Freedom Run (on July 4) because it’s an iconic Evergreen event for the last 39 years except for in 2020,” said Betsy Hays, director of resource development for sponsor Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice. “We want to show the community how much we love them and how much we want to support them, and in turn, the community can support Mount Evans.”

The organization has figured out a safe way to host the run along with a virtual option, Hays explained, so people can support the event that is a fundraiser for the nonprofit.

“Even in July, some people will not be ready to be at an in-person event,” she noted.

Bryan McFarland, chairman of the Evergreen Rodeo Association board, agreed. The Evergreen Rodeo and Parade will take place as usual, with the caveat that it will be guided by public health protocols.

“We will put on a responsible, safe event,” McFarland said. “The most important thing is we respect people’s choice to come out or not come out.”

Organizers said people will make decisions based on what is best for them: Some will stay home to avoid crowds, while others will attend wearing masks and try to stay further away from the larger groups. Others will treat events like they did pre-pandemic.

Hays noted that the great thing about the El Pinal rodeo grounds is that in the midst of a pandemic, the hillside provides rodeo attendees a way to spread out, so everyone is comfortable.

Cheri Rubin, president of the Evergreen Music Festival, says trying to organize a festival, follow Jeffco Public Health guidelines and still have proceeds to provide to the Evergreen High School performing arts programs takes being nimble.

“We have had to redesign our event at least a half dozen times,” she said of the new Memorial Day music festival, which is the first major summer event in the foothills.

She has two motivations for putting on both the Memorial Day and July 4 music events: to provide the community safe, fun events, and to give musicians and dancers a chance to perform, something that has been few and far between in the last year.

The Summerfest outdoor arts festival, operated by Center for the Arts Evergreen, has moved from mid-July to Labor Day weekend. Lisa Nierenberg, CAE’s executive director, called Summerfest and all of the events a way for people to feel normal again.

She, like many of the organizers, said she has been impressed by and grateful for the business sponsorships. Organizers said businesses that were hit pretty hard during the last year have stepped up to support the events and the organizations behind them. They believe the businesses are just as excited for normal events to take place.

Nierenberg said CAE has planned for fewer vendor booths but hopes that as vaccinations increase, the number of COVID-19 cases will decrease, so there will be closer to the usual 100 vendors.

“The drive for our community to get together is so strong that we are all willing to do whatever it takes to get together,” Hays said. “That’s what’s so awesome about our mountain community.”

Not this year

Organizers of both the Evergreen Jazz Festival and the Evergreen Town Race decided to pull the plug on their events. The Evergreen Garden Club also has postponed the annual garden tour until 2022.

Jazz Festival Marketing Director Jim Reiners said the decision was based on how half of the typical audience of 2,000 comes from out of state, and there were no guarantees what limitations would be on indoor venues in late July. The festival typically uses five indoor venues, and this year, that would be impossible.

“We thought it was best to bite the bullet,” he said. “There aren’t many venues in Evergreen that can accommodate the group, and we needed to let (musicians) know now whether they would perform.”

Bobby Kinnare, an Evergreen Town Race director, said race planning usually starts in January, and with the uncertainty regarding COVID-19, the decision was made to cancel the 5K and 10K races.

The race is sponsored by the Alpine Rescue Team, which has its headquarters in El Rancho, and the race is a fundraiser for the organization. The race, which typically goes along Upper Bear Creek Road and ends at the Evergreen Lake House, uses shuttles to get racers to the starting line, which could also prove problematic, Kinnare said.

“As a search-and-rescue team, we see ourselves as stewards of the public’s health,” Kinnare said. “We need to be careful with things that we do. The last thing we want is an outbreak.”

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