In 5 days, my sleepy little town – Salida – will be booming, rocking and buzzing with the sounds of Mumford & Sons, the Flaming Lips and a host of other bands thanks to the Gentlemen of the Road Salida Stopover, a massive music festival that will officially take over town August 21 and 22nd.

Though the town is divided about this event for obvious reasons, it’s going forward in a huge way with up to 35,000 tickets available for the 2-day event, which will also feature:  The Flaming Lips, The Vaccines, Tune-Yards, Jenny Lewis, Jeff The Brotherhood, Dawes, James Vincent McMorrow, and Blake Mills.

With a population of only 5,000, it’s understandable that residents would be concerned about the impact such an influx of people will have on our quaint town known best for its sweet mountain biking, thriving art scene and unmatched rafting opportunities. As the biggest event to ever come to Chaffee County – (we’re expecting more than twice the people who live in the entire county) – there will be challenges. Littering, drunkenness, damage to Vandaveer Ranch (the venue), chaos on the streets, traffic, parking challenges… all of these will happen. I mean, all the hotel rooms sold out within days of the show’s announcement back in March, so there is no doubt things are going to get a little crazy here.

But, there are sure to be beautiful things that happen as well. Music brings out the best in people and I’m interested to see what happens next weekend. I don’t own a business or a vacation rental and I have nothing to gain from 35,000 people descending on town, but I, for one, hope this is a hit. I love the small town life as much as the next girl, but since this is going to happen anyway, I want to see it be successful, fun, inspiring and a positive experience for our town, for visitors and for the musicians.

Here are a few tips if you’re heading our way (or if you live here and you’ve decided to ride out the storm and stick around):

Embrace the Spirit of the Stopover: This is really the most important one and it encompasses A LOT! Mumford & Sons and The Gentlemen of the Road crew put it this way:

A Stopover is a celebration of a real place, with real people. It’s a bridge between the culture of a music festival and actual culture as lived by real-life people. We bring the music, the stage, the flags and the fans; everything else belongs to the town. Their energy and enthusiasm, their civic pride… their favorite local beer. We’ve found it to be a beautiful thing – maybe the most beautiful thing that we do. Since 2012 we have ‘Stopped-over’ in tiny rural towns (Dungog, Australia), small cities (Portland, Maine), places rich with history (Bristol, Virginia) or ancient tradition (Lewes, UK), and tiny gems just waiting to be discovered (Dixon, Illinois). We had 8,000 campers on a levee on the banks of the Great Miami River (Troy, Ohio), and even more on one of Canada’s oldest fairgrounds (Simcoe, Ontario). We’ve played by the edge of the north Atlantic (Galway, Ireland), and on an endless expanse of dusty red clay in the heart of America (Guthrie, Oklahoma). Each town imprints its own experience onto the Stopover, and each Stopover is unique. Our journey as Gentlemen of the road will take us back across America, to Scotland, and beyond. We have more camping, bigger acts, and bigger plans than ever before. We couldn’t be more proud and excited to introduce you to our latest group of amazing towns. We’d of course love to see you at all of our shows, but if you can see just one, and you can make it… to Walla Walla, or Salida, or Aviemore, or Waverly, or Seaside heights… we promise you’ll get more back than you can possibly imagine.

These are the Stopover rules: Arrive early, stay late. Don’t miss out on camping. Hear as many bands as you can. Take the party from the stage to the town. Eat the local food, drink the local drink. Say a friendly hello to new faces. Have as much fun as humanly possible.”

Remember, we’re not Denver – and that this is why you like to come here: This is not the Front Range. We are a small town, nestled in the Collegiate Peaks and though we have amazing riding, rafting, art, food and community, we do not have the capacity to handle this many people so come prepared and bring your patience. There will be lines at restaurants, our grocery store will run out of just about everything, and parking will be impossible… the list goes on. If you adjust your expectations just slightly before arriving, you’ll have a much more pleasant time.

Ride Your Bike – This is the advantage of being a small town. You can park your car and ride everywhere! This will greatly decrease your frustration with the crowds, will let you see a bit more of our beautiful town and will keep you safer. For all your bike rental needs, try our favorite bike shop, Subculture Cyclery.

Grab a Festival Guide – Our hometown newspaper – The Mountain Mail – has published a Festival Guide, which is available at many businesses downtown or here: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/52524334/gentlemen-of-the-road-salida-stopover-festival-guidepdf.
Pick one up to see the rules of the festival, a complete schedule of events, including performances by some of our favorite LOCAL artists, and information about the performers both downtown and at the Vandaveer Ranch location.

Hit a Trail – No better way to shake off a hangover than to run, ride, hike or climb. While you’re here – in this stunning town set against the backdrop of towering fourteeners and the Arkansas River, get out and explore. Hike “S” mountain, ride the Little Rainbow Trail, climb Mount Shavano. For all your outdoor gear needs and trail info, visit: Salida Mountain Sports.

Be Kind – To Our Town and To Each Other – The people who live in Salida are some of the most passionate I’ve met in my time on this planet. They pursue whatever makes their spirit soar – from yoga to hunting to horses to needlepoint – with a fervor. We have many different interests and passions, but one thing we all have in common is that we love our town and all its quirks and we love living here.

We hope you enjoy your visit here immensely and that you come back sometime when things are a bit less hectic, but mostly we hope you treat Salida like it’s your home. Even though you’re only here for a few days, please remember that we are here for the long haul and though there will be major clean-up efforts and the ranch will be reseeded, this doesn’t mean you should just trash the place or each other. Please leave our town better than you found it and be kind to each other out there.

For tickets and a full line-up, visit: http://www.gentlemenoftheroad.com/stopovers/salida/

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