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Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival at a crossroads

After 13 years, the festival is in need of new blood if it’s to continue

by Bob Kennemer

The SPICMF meeting was packed with folks who want to keep the festival going.
Photo by Bob Kennemer

HUERFANO — In early December a group of 25 devoted Celtic music fans gathered at the La Veta Library to discuss the very future of the Spanish Peaks International Celtic Music Festival.

The festival founders, Barbara and Jack Yule, of Gardner, are both now in their early 80’s and can no longer manage the grueling requirements of putting on the festival. Although the festival has an active and involved board, they all have full time jobs and cannot continue growing the festival alone. Once again new energy is needed.

The board is moving to become more of a governing board and the non-profit festival needs more volunteers to help do the day to day tasks necessary for the festival to continue. Additionally, the festival wants to hire a part-time administrator, but the non-profit status means the festival has minimal funds to do so. When they have a job description and potential salary prepared they will release more information. Thus far, no festival organizers have been paid, although the festival has paid an artistic director from Denver a small salary to help find and book key Celtic performers.

Considering the small size and remote location of the SPICMF, it has been a huge success, attracting big names in the Celtic music world. International Celtic music performers are attracted to the community based and European style for the event, and regularly comment on how much they enjoyed their time in Huerfano County and appreciated the warmth and welcome they experienced. “This festival exists for the love of the music!” proclaims Barbara Yule. Additionally, the event brings in hundreds of attendees. Many come to attend the various workshops, retreats, presentations and classes offered by world class talent. But the music is the main draw.

The festival is currently seeking help in the following areas:

• Sponsorships are crucial the SPICMF continuing. Many local businesses have stepped up, but more are needed. Anything helps!

• Volunteers to help with housing, marketing, setting up venues, moving musicians,/instruments, staffing the festival office and more.

• Huerfano County has limited accommodations for both performers and attendees. Most performers stay with local residents and virtually all local beds are filled by the festival. One idea is to have locals open up their homes as a place to stay for attendees, for a modest sum in return, sort of like an Air B&B. Other ideas are being considered as well, to perhaps to include more camping and using lodging all along the Hwy of Legends.

At a recent meeting, Ruth Orr was appointed president, replacing Debbie Channel. Orr works for the World Journal newspaper, which is a long time sponsor of the SPICMF. Orr will help with marketing and more, and would like to encourage anyone and everyone to get involved at whatever level they feel comfortable with. She says, “This festival brings in musicians who are absolutely the rockstars of the Celtic music world. They love it here and feel so at home. I’m hoping the people of Huerfano County, who are so good at making international stars feel welcome and at home in our little corner of the world, will step up to help us keep the festival alive.”

The organization is currently working on a three and five year plan, which are needed not only for guidance, but to win grants, which are another important source of revenue to offset costs. If you are interested in help the SPICMF out, plan on attending an upcoming meeting in the next couple months (watch the World Journal for details) or by emailing or calling 888-950-8807.

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