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The Wilkinson Public Library's Market Shows are back, offering free interactive children's shows and performances on Fridays at 11 a.m. at the gondola plaza. In 2019, kids danced, sang and played instruments at one Friday performance. (Photo by Bria Light/Telluride Daily Planet)

The days are warming, the pandemic is waning and live music is back. It’s not just the grown-ups who get to have all the fun, either: Through June and July, the Wilkinson Public Library is back at it, offering free Market Shows on Fridays at 11 a.m. for the little ones. Each week, performers will dazzle audiences with music, circus, theater, magic and even Shakespeare for kids, ready to captivate young imaginations, pick up the beat and find the groove.

“I love this outdoor program, which was started as a special treat during our Summer Reading Program because it gathers us all ― children, families, preschools, locals and tourists ― to be entertained by some amazing, talented, fun-loving entertainers for free every Friday at the local farmers market,” said Jeanne Stewart, the library’s youth programs specialist. “What a great way to see people's talents, to be inspired and to enjoy time together in a fun environment. What a way to end the week or start the weekend in our home.”

On Friday, Steve Weeks, a Colorado-based singer-songwriter who specializes in children’s music, will take the stage at the first Market Show of the summer, boosting spirits with songs like “My Dog Ate My House,” “Bartleby Finkleton Will Not Take a Bath” and “Kiki Kangaroo.”

For Weeks, the journey of writing silly, fun songs for kids began when he became the father of young children. His children’s preschool teacher, who knew he was a musician, asked if he’d be willing to help create some music curriculum for the kids. One day while on a mountain bike ride, he was pondering the idea when a song popped into his head. By the time he’d ridden back to the trailhead, “Fred the Fish” was born, destined to become part of a series of songs based on the alphabet.

Weeks, already a prolific songwriter, felt the turn into kids’ music suited his natural leaning toward writing positive, light-hearted lyrics and tunes.

“I was in a punk band in college, and my bandmates were like, ‘Man, you always turn everything into a happy song,’” he recalled with a chuckle. In the kids’ music genre, he said, “It’s not about a style of music, it’s about the audience. So you can kind of do anything. You can do a reggae song, a rock song, a folk song, you could do a Celtic song if you want. The genre allows you to explore a little bit more musically.”

Weeks’ shows are highly interactive, with nearly every song offering opportunities to dance, sing along, act or incorporate a game. After the long year of canceled shows and virtual performances, Weeks expressed his joy to be back at it, creating fun memories and opportunities for kids to experience live music with their friends, parents and families.

In addition to Weeks’ interactive concert Friday at the Telluride Farmers Market at 11 a.m., the Wilkinson Public Library is bringing back a variety of artists and performers each Friday morning who were forced to cancel last year due to COVID-19 precautions. Next week, the Salida Circus will arrive in town with plenty of acts to wow both children and children at heart. Later this month and in July, offerings include a kids’ version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at the Transfer Warehouse and a collaboration with Telluride Theatre to present a bilingual children’s play adapted from the popular picture book “Rubia and the Three Osos.”

The free shows are in conjunction with the library’s Summer Reading Program, which includes fun reading challenges for all age levels, including adults), and plenty of chances to earn prizes.

“The Wilkinson Public Library's Youth Services has hosted a booth at the Telluride Farmers Market for many years to help celebrate our Summer Reading Program and advertise all the summer programs at the library,” noted Stewart. “We are very excited to welcome back the performers who were all ready to come last year and quickly signed up to entertain the crowd this summer.”