The Saratoga Sun -

Food and bluegrass

Riverside holds its eighth annual Party Day with a picnic and bluegrass band High Plains Tradition


Residents and visitors to the town of Riverside were treated to a night out with neighbors and friends at the town's Riverside Party Day.

The event, held in Riverside town park, was sponsored by the town of Riverside and the Carbon County Visitors Council. It was catered by the Bear Trap Café and Bar, and music was courtesy of the High Plains Tradition Bluegrass Band from Colorado.

Just after the party started at 4 p.m., there were about 50 people attending. By about 6 p.m., the crowd was estimated to be closer to 80, with more families coming in and making straight for the food table.

Leann Stephenson, of Riverside, was enjoying the party like many of her neighbors, but was effusive in her praise for Riverside Town Clerk Jan Cook, whom Stephenson described as the, "driving force behind the event."

Cook, she said, was instrumental in setting up the event, managing it and making sure everything went smoothly, a role she has reprised over and again through the eight years the event has been held.

Stephenson was also eager to thank the town of Encampment, which loaned its portable stage to the town of Riverside for the event, giving the band a place to play for the growing crowd.

Stephenson said by her estimation, this year's party day was the best-attended one she had seen. Although there were a lot of familiar faces of residents at the park, there were a few visitors from afar as well, with Stephenson saying some guests at her campground who were in town for the Eclipse had come to mingle with the people of Riverside.

Music was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., but a rare astronomical event that has had the state in knots for some weeks now-the full solar eclipse of Aug. 21 which drew thousands of visitors to the state-made usual weekend traffic coming out of Colorado's Front Range cities even more snarled than usual.

Eventually, after a harried 20 minutes of getting instruments and microphones setup after a long drive in from the Front Range, the band finally began to perform sound checks and prepare to play.

At about 5:30 p.m., the band began to play. "Sorry for being late," Mark Leslie, the band's banjo player said into the microphone. "We'll make it up to you by playing fast."

The band began to play, filling Riverside Town Park with the allegro string-powered beat of bluegrass music. Though a couple small children danced to the music, most people were busy enjoying the food and music, and the opportunity to get to meet with neighbors and friends and spend time in the waning days of summer.


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