“We’re back up to our usual numbers,” said Scott Clow, president of Greater Dolores Action, the community organization that puts on the popular river celebration. “We sold 500 tickets online in the last 48 hours.”
A chilly rainstorm dampened attendance last year, but sunny skies and mid-80 temperatures this year warmed up festivarians as for the 11 bands that played on two stages.
The small-town atmosphere, national and local bands, free raft rides, dog-friendly grounds and large playground continued to make the family-friendly event a regional favorite.
“I’m having a great time,” said Sarah James, who drove up from Albuquerque with friends for the festival. “I’ve never been to one like this right on the river, and I’ll be back next year.”
“The music has been really excellent,” said her friend Alex Hinkle.
Campers also had it better this year, with sites positioned in view of both stages so they could listen while lounging in chairs, microbuses and under tent structures.
“We loved that we got in closer this year for the camping,” said Cathy Wakeman, of Durango. “The smaller stage with the local bands had a big, fun audience.”
Festival-goers took advantage of the rivers, mountains and trails surrounding Dolores, creating an “it’s all happening” summertime experience.
“We mountain-biked Boggy Draw, enjoyed a great music festival, then ran the Lower Dolores the day after — a wonderful time,” Wakeman said.
More than 200 people took advantage of the free raft rides, and 105 volunteers showed up, with many working the entire event. A two-hour shift earned them a free ticket.
“It’s the most volunteers we’ve ever had,” said concert promoter Ryan Robison.
Jack’s Plastic and Four Corners River Sports offered free demos for standup boards, inflatable kayaks, mini-catarafts.
“We get more participation every year,” said paddle board instructor Mark Quenelle. “It’s a great way to cool off.”
Armando Lopez and Brendt Williams, of Denver-based rock band Workshy, enjoyed the enthusiastic audience that danced and hula-hooped on the lawn while soaking in Workshy’s blend of jazz, blues and funk.
“We had a great show – the backstage crews and sound have been awesome. Very hospitable people, beautiful town,” said Williams. “We would love to play here again, in Telluride and Durango too.”
Headliner Honey Island Swamp Band entertained revelers for a high-energy two-hour set, inviting a dozen kids on stage to show off their dance moves.
Roots reggae band Niceness, of Telluride, performed three times over the weekend to the delight of their growing fan base. Their late-night show at the Dolores River Brewery patio kept a solid crowd grooving past midnight.
“Great vibes. Dolores is one of our favorite places to play,” said singer Koral Delatierra. “So much gratitude for the Dolores River Festival and Greater Dolores Action for an amazing weekend.”
Profits from the festival go toward projects of the nonprofit group Greater Dolores Action, said treasurer Megan Coxwell.
“Today we celebrate the river — it brings us together, whether you’re a farmer, boater or fisherman,” she said. “It helps fund our river cleanup days, trail projects and maintenance for the river gauge on the Lower Dolores.”