July 4th

Live, outdoor music in both Telluride and Mountain Village will add to the weekend's festivities while allowing for safe social distancing. (Photo by Bria Light/Telluride Daily Planet)

Oh, say can you see: A. runners scrambling up a grassy hillside towards the gondola mid-station; B. local artists offering their wares in the open-air Transfer Warehouse; C. live musical performances on Main Street in Telluride and in the plazas of Mountain Village; or D. all of the above?

If you answered all of the above, congratulations! You must be spending your Fourth of July holiday weekend in the Telluride area.

While nothing is particularly normal about hosting celebrations in 2020, and both Telluride’s famous annual parade and fireworks show have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns and wildfire risk, fret not. Community organizers, town officials and public health professionals have collaborated to bring a variety of festive, safe, socially distanced activities to life for the holiday weekend.

Kicking things off Thursday and Friday evening from 5-7 p.m., Mountain Village will be hosting its weekly Sunset Stroll, with musicians providing live music throughout the plazas in the Village Core. The surrounding restaurants will offer happy hour specials and those who wish to enjoy the music and sate their thirst can take advantage of the large common consumption area to enjoy libations while strolling. 

“People can go out with their families and still socially distance and be safe at the same time,” said Kathrine Warren, public information specialist for the town of Mountain Village. “Our hope is that people will come up here to see the sights, take a hike or go for a bike ride, and then come join us for live music, drinks and take-out food,” adding that the Sunset Stroll will take place every Thursday and Friday through mid-September.

Meanwhile, those who wish to engage in some wholesome, local retail therapy can head to the historic, roofless Transfer Warehouse in Telluride on Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. for the 2nd annual Summer Arts Bazaar, hosted by Telluride Arts. While the Winter Arts Bazaar has been a local tradition for over 30 years, bringing the event back for the second year in the summer comes at a timely moment, according to Kate Jones, Telluride Arts executive director.

“We’re really excited to give our artisans a place to sell their work,” Jones said. “They’re not allowed to be in the farmers market right now, so we’re excited to be able to offset some of that lack of exposure for them. We’re hoping that it will turn into a more regular thing, we will be asking artists what they need and want for us in that regard.” 

She noted that Telluride Arts has worked closely with public health officials to organize a safe bazaar, and shoppers and vendors will be required to wear masks and abide by social distancing guidelines while enjoying the bazaar.

Live music will also add to the weekend’s festivities at the new stage on Telluride’s main street in front of Two Skirts and Telluride Outside, with local musicians performing between 5-7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. While the stage will be in use during those times, Jones explained that outside of those hours, the stage will become three smaller stages placed throughout Main Street and are open for all local musicians and performers for busking.

In addition to opportunities for live music, those seeking a physical challenge can register for the 10th annual Rundola, a Fourth of July uphill foot race that organizer Katie Singer characterized as “an uphill scramble starting from the base of the gondola in the town of Telluride to the top of Lift 7 anyway you can get there.”

This year, adjustments have been made to accommodate for COVID-19 safety precautions, including a participation cap and a rolling start in which 10 participants at a time will begin every 10 minutes between 8-11 a.m., with faster runners starting earlier to minimize passing. There will not be a post-race meal or in-person awards this year, and participants will need to walk down in lieu of taking the gondola to avoid a traffic jam at the top. First place finishers in men and women’s categories will receive prizes. To register, visit runreg.com, where further safety instructions are provided.

“It’s a great way to start out the Fourth of July,” said Singer, development manager at the Telluride Foundation, which organizes the annual scramble. At the end of the race, she said, after over 1,800 feet of elevation gain, “people feel pretty worked and pretty proud. ‘Run, hike or crawl’ has always been our motto.”

While plenty of festive options provide entertainment for the weekend — including original dance performance “Taming Wild Thoughts” at the Palm Theater with a four-day run beginning Sunday evening — Annie Carlson, director of social and interactive media for the Telluride Tourism Board, also suggested plentiful ways to get outside to enjoy the great outdoors.

“We are encouraging all of our guests to enjoy our beautiful backyard that is perfectly set up for social distancing,” she said. “Go for a hike, enjoy a bike ride, hit the river in a SUP or a tube, SUP at Trout Lake, explore the high country during a jeep tour or RZR tour, flyfish” or “spend a day in Mountain Village” enjoying the hikes, disc golf course, fishing in Elks Pond and ball courts.