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A Festival in the Clouds: Alma, Colorado

2013_Festival_PosterThere is something in the water around little mountain towns; it just seems to make everyone super friendly. Last weekend I was in such a town called Alma, Colorado. I don’t think I was in the town and out of the car for more than 30 seconds before I felt it in the air.  Passer-byers asked where I was camping, if I had been to the bar yet, and just saying hello all over the place. It’s the kind of treatment that seems unique and special to small mountain towns.

At 10,578 feet, Alma is the highest incorporated town in North America. With an estimated population of 275, you can expect people to know that you’re not a local upon first gaze. It’s nestled underneath giants named Mt. Bross, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Democrat, Mt. Cameron, and Sherman (all over 14,000 ft). Most of the tourists come for the 14ers, but the town gets most of the income from mineral mines.

In July, this tiny town of “ones” (one store, one bar…etc.) hosts the Festival in the Clouds. Here you’ll find most things you have come to expect from festivals; funnel cakes, live music, and hand crafted art. It’s a nice festival for the kids during the day, but at night it becomes one of the few times these mountain folk get down and party. People from the surrounding area come and set up tents or RVs right outside the Town Hall! Music is supposed to go until 10pm, but when I was there, it lasted until 11 (I’m sure several nearby tents were disgruntled). The bar was packed! People were even dancing on top of the tables because room ran out on the floor. If it were the scene in a larger city, bouncers and bartenders would be kicking out throngs of drunkards; however, here in Alma, it seemed like everything was just going according to plan for this big festival in this itty-bitty town.  It was really quite the experience witnessing, what appeared to be, homeless drunks dancing around and groping numerous other bar guests. Nobody, including myself, seemed to mind.

The next morning I was sure to attend the $6, all-you-can-eat Volunteer Firefighters Pancake Breakfast inside the Alma Fire Station. It was a much needed greasy breakfast for my morning headache. It’s from 7am to 11am on the Sunday, don’t miss it!


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