The small mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado, where two of my babies were born, is well known for its seasonal festivals.
In fact when we first moved there, back in 1989, we arrived to town 4th of July weekend…one of their biggest and craziest celebrations. Just a few of the things that still stick in my mind from that weekend: people riding on bikes with ice chests strapped to the handle bars full of adult beverages, sharing with random strangers as they rode along, a convertible in the parade with a sign on the side that read, “Have a safe 4th”, while revelers tossed condoms into the crowd, and if that wasn’t enough of a culture shock, there was an old classic red pick up truck that had tequila bottles lining a shelf along the rear window and people were jumping out into the crowd giving swigs to people along the parade line. Keep in mind I had just left California for the first time and had only been in town about four hours!
So now it’s Becca’s turn. She is in Colorado for the next few years and has a strong curiosity about the town in which she was born. She was able to go there recently with a fellow photography student and it just so happens there was a festival going on. While the town has evolved from the tequila swigging, condom tossing Independence Day revelry of the 80’s, it was still full of colorful characters and activities.
Vinotok is celebrated each year in Crested Butte as an ode to it’s Slavic roots. It occurs during the autumnal equinox, when there is balance between night and day. It gives people a chance to celebrate the harvest and forget their troubles. The festival focuses on storytelling events throughout the week, all told by local story tellers in the tradition of the immigrant miners that once inhabited the town.
It culminates in a procession of costumed town’s people, led by the Harvest Earth Mother and the Green Man through town, ending at a large bonfire where the burning of the Grump takes place.
One year when we were there, my then 4 year old son and I stood inside the window of my parents restaurant to watch the proceedings. Green Man that year was, by day, a cook at the restaurant. He spotted us and stopped to wave hello. My son flew behind me and climbed straight up the back of my leg, up onto my head at lightening speed, he was so startled by the costume!
The Great Grump is created by the town’s children, filled with all the woes and troubles of the community. By burning the Grump, townsfolk are given a clean slate and are then ready to move on towards winter.
What do you do to cleanse yourself from a previous season? You could always visit Crested Butte next fall!
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