Downtown Music Festival draws diverse, and plentiful, audience

Garry Tullio, left, sings with local bluegrass group Stray Grass on the main stage at Fourth and Main streets on Saturday during the Downtown Music Festival.

Annie took a load off, but so did hundreds of other music fans who reclined on retaining walls, flopped on folding chairs or just twirled around the Downtown Music Festival’s Main Stage at Fourth and Main streets about 1 p.m. Saturday to hear Stray Grass perform.

A local favorite, the ensemble performed “The Weight,” a folk-rock song featuring “Annie” in the refrain that was made famous by The Band. It was an obvious crowd-pleaser.

“This one’s my favorite,” said Ruby Carei, 6, of Juniper Ridge Elementary School.

Ruby was swaying to the rhythm with her brother, Thomas, 3, who looked a little tired. Their Dad, Kevin Carei, 38, of Breckenridge, also looking a little tired, said his family was having a great time.

A celebration of music, there were plenty of live performances to enjoy, but downtown businesses also extended shopping hours and introduced other fun activities.

What looked like a crowd of several hundred people, possibly more, wandered up and down Main Street midday Saturday, pausing to listen to music or slurp on a frozen treat.

The festival was held in conjunction with the Epic Rides Off-Road mountain bike event, which made for a diverse audience.

“There seems to be a good crowd here. Everybody’s in a good mood. It’s very energized and upbeat,” said Darcy Johnson, a three-year member of the Grand Junction Commission on Arts and Culture.

Johnson was handing out surveys, part of an economic impact study that links cultural events like the music festival to the amount of revenue they generate for area businesses.

Commerce was just beginning to pick up Saturday after a busy Friday night, several downtown retailers reported.

“The music is just getting warmed up here. The bands are just starting to play now, so it really hasn’t been unusually busy today yet,” said Marya Johnston, owner of Out West Books, 533 Main St., now in its third year of operation.

“I expect it to get busier as the day goes on. Last year was great.”

One big change from 2015 is the music festival opened on its own, without the art show component, organizers said.

“I think the art kind of detracted from the music for many people,” said Jordan Draper, 28, of Grand Junction, who also attended the festival last year.

“I think it’s better that they separated it from the art festival. Now it’s more centered on the music, and people are coming down to enjoy the bands.”

Stray Grass was just one of 18 bands that performed on three stages over three days during this year’s Downtown Music Festival.

The festival drew enthusiastic crowds on Friday and Saturday and concludes today, organizers said.


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