The Crestone Eagle • April, 2021

Loving the Dark Sky Street Festival planned for May 15

by Zaylah Pearson-Good

The relentless pandemic and rural, winter living have left many of us questioning if we still possess social skills. This past year proved to be an excellent time to focus inward, explore personal hobbies, and reset from our busy lives. However, as the early signs of spring peek through melting snow, the Crestone community is also waking up. The first-ever street festival to honor the spectacular night sky is planned for May 15l. Locals are invited to come together and celebrate the Town of Crestone’s application to becoming a designated Dark Sky Community under the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Live music, dancing, local art/crafts, and food are all planned for the exciting day.  

Celebrating this noteworthy achievement inspires pride and awareness for all the ways that our community is reaching towards sustainability and resilience. If IDA accepts the Town’s application, Crestone will join the list of nearly 30 other locations across the globe that have met IDA’s qualifications for minimizing light pollution. Benjamin Byer, owner of the Elephant Cloud and the event’s coordinator, explains that we need social opportunities that recognize and honor the precious resources of the San Luis Valley. Byer is tentatively naming the street festival “Loving the Dark Sky,” and already has plans to run the event again in August of this year. If the event is a success, Loving the Dark Sky could become a new biannual tradition. 

On the day of May 15 locals can expect all day road closures off of Cottonwood and between the streets of Golden and Silver. By keeping the event completely outdoors, Byer shares that there will be plenty of room to dance and social distance. A stage off of the Elephant Cloud café‘s deck will host a range of local and travelling bands, including the River Arkansas. Vendors are planned to sell food, arts/crafts, and local products along the street. As usual, food and drinks will be sold at the Cloud Café. Night activities, such as telescope viewings and possibly educational talks, will conclude the day of fun. 

Everyone is welcome at the Loving the Dark Sky event, but Byer asks that participants be respectful of social distancing, wear a mask when appropriate, and come with a fun and lighthearted attitude. As there are no inside events scheduled this year due to COVID, the outdoor street festival offers a “safe environment to enjoy community.” This is an opportunity for people to appreciate the treasured San Luis Valley night sky and to reconnect with friends. Therefore, it is essential that attendees work together to make the space feel comfortable and inclusive to all who gather. Onsite security will also assist in keeping the peace. 

Another exciting event is planned for the same day, allowing locals to enjoy a variety of activities in town. The Crestone Garden Festival and Resourcing and Crestone Community Gardens event will be held May 14 and 15. A part of the first annual 18-day PermaPeaceFest, the event will be hosted downtown at the Little Shepard Episcopal Church. Stop by to browse and purchase everything you need to make your garden bloom this spring: soil, straw, and plant starts. The event will also include guest speakers, educational videos, and a raffle. Between the dark sky festival and the permaculture event, May 15 is an exciting day to celebrate our town and community. Bring your lawn chair, dancing shoes, picnic, and enjoy what Crestone has to offer. 

Since there will be road closures downtown and less parking available than usual, the use of alternative forms of transportation is encouraged. Show your love for the planet by carpooling, riding your bike, or walking to the event. Currently, Byer is working on creating a parking map so to simplify the parking process for those who need to drive to the event. He is currently seeking volunteers who will help direct traffic, set up parking, and close off the street. Interested musicians and vendors are also encouraged to sign up for the festival. There is limited availability and space, so reserve your spot today. 

The pandemic has had an undeniable impact on our small town. Personal beliefs and politics have certainly divided many of us, just as they have the country. Having operated the Elephant Cloud for over a decade now, Benjamin Byer has seen the very impact of this “split” and “separation” in his own business. However, he still sees “a lot of love and community” in Crestone. He is optimistic that in the long run, we will come back together and move forward as an even stronger community . . . a goal that he sees as being “better for humanity.” The Loving the Dark Sky event is a great step in that direction. 

Volunteer, entertainment, and vendor inquiries can be directed to Benjamin Byer at 1-719-588-1278  (text preferred), or benjaminbyer@gmail.com.