Best Kept Mountain Festival Secret Drawing Bigger and More Enthusiastic Crowds

Two Week Green Box Treasure Offers Respite from National and Local Political Disasters

Rick Langenberg


Let the grand  Art and Event Boom and Live Show begin.


That was one of the rallying cries of the 15th annual Green Box Arts Festival that kicked off Friday and hopefully will give our fine village a needed summer boost and break from the bizarre June rains, floods and even a disaster declaration.


Once again, the opening Green Box festival days reaped the benefits of great weather.


But more importantly, Green Box could provide a needed respite from the political controversies hitting the national landscape, capped by recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action and student loan forgiveness and a bizarre case over the rights of web site designers. The right and left are now gearing up for all-out war over these issues, and there really is no place to avoid the punches.


Even our own political landscape will become quite charged later this summer, with the Woodland Park RE-2 School Board elections.


And then there are sports, once a neutral breeding ground for summer fun. The so-called gentleman’s game of golf has become anything but gentlemanly with the fight between LIV and the PGA Tour. Supposedly, an agreement has been crafted. But the allegations of Saudi blood money, and the trashing of victims of the 9/11 tragedy, are definitely tainting the sport and taking away from the links’ revered majesty and usual gentle behavior.


Even in basketball, Colorado fans are quite upset with the loss, announced last week, of Denver Nuggets guard Bruce Brown to the Indiana Pacers. Brown was lauded for contributing to the Nuggets success in grabbing an NBA championship ring.  And with the Colorado Rockies, there is even a social  media joke abounding about adding Colorado Governor Jared Polis to the lineup due to their incredibly poor play.


In conclusion, this local art and cultural break could not have occurred at a better time.


The opening day of Green Box attracted quite the enthusiastic crowd with the unveiling of new art works, running the gamut from new nature benches, crafted from natural materials found in GMF; a colorful, huge photo mural on Lake Street that depicts the landscape in unique ways, the history of women lodging managers at a GMF historic gem; and a real trail greeter and surprise art display for hikers. These new works are provided by acclaimed artists’ Brenda Biondo, Brian Wall, Molly Rideout, Brooke Smiley and Nikki Pike.



Altogether, more than 80 events are in the works now, with dance performances, live music, concerts,  Shakespeare in the Park, hikes, forums and classes.


According to Green Box Director Scott Levy, the big standouts in this year’s festival, compared to previous years, is the amazing quantity of events and the connections with their artist-residency program. Green Box is becoming more of a year-round attraction and community link.


That wasn’t always the case in GMF.


History of the Green Box Festival

The Green Box Festival has often had an unusual oddball relationship with local residents.


When the festival first started in 2009, many locals were confused and wondered what was going on in their little mountain town. A few of the events attracted hefty crowds, but not that many.


Then, one of the initial turning points came when locals were mesmerized by what they described as a spaceship invasion. This came as Green Box started focusing on signature displays, including a reflective modern glass work that was once exhibited  at the top of the New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Only instead of reflecting Central Park, the GMF version highlighted the Pikes Peak mountainside.


This display, which some described as the spaceship on the hill, garnered amazing reviews, and appeared to put GMF on the art map. It definitely turned the corner in local reaction to the festival.


Then, came the Canada-based musical swing display in the Gazebo Lake Park, allowing joint users to create their own music;  a mesmerizing light explosion above the lake, offering amazing views in the evening, and almost drawing comparisons with something Pink Floyd would have done for special effects in their stellar days; and finally, the Green Mountain Falls Skyspace, and the accompanying trail loop, which speaks for itself.


The approval of the Skyspace  project and concept culminated with a lengthy annexation process that was anything but easy.   Surprisingly, the effort was achieved with little opposition, but it took months to develop.


The headaches are now over, and it’s time to trek up or take a ride to the Skyspace, which officially opened last summer.


Through the growth of the festival, more locals have come to accept Green  Box as a great, and yes, unusual partner. Some view a few  of the works as a little abstract, as comparison are often drawn with the art renaissance in Marfa, Texas. There are a few works that I have to admit, I find myself scratching my head about.


But the diversity of events, cultural performances and live music remains unmatched, especially for a  town the size of Green Mountain Falls.  The education forums too, including a mayoral chat, a discussion on wolves in Colorado and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee native American Indian massacre, are quite unique.


One of my favorites remains the Shakespeare in the Park performances, with Theatreworks doing condensed shows from the great one, in one of the more intimate styles.


The Theatreworks folks definitely shined in their Saturday performances, with the showing of Pericles. They did their best in making it into more of a folksy drama.  At times, they had to compete with neighborhood barbecue noise in the background.  Shakespeare shows often confuse the crowd, but that is part of the fun.


The community hikes also are a big draw, including nighttime and day journeys to the top of Mount Dewey and across the Bratton trail.


So, if you want a break from politics, or are down from the recent rainy weather, attend one of the many  Green Box shows and events available in the next week or so.


If anything, this could mark the return of the infamous “Summer of Fun” to the Teller high country, a cliché once conjured up by a former marketing director in Cripple Creek.