A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had an opportunity to take a brief vacation to Mesa Verde National Park. The park is located in an area called the four corners region. It’s the only place in the U.S. where four state meet – Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. It’s not easy getting there but worth the time. However, rather than taking a deadhead to the destination approach, we decided to take a loop route. Southern Colorado is beautiful and we were interested in a more relaxed pace.
South of Denver before reaching the town of Salida, there was a sign on the road, closed to festival traffic. Since it was still early in the afternoon and we weren’t in a rush, I decided that we should take a detour to check out the festival. When we arrived in town, there was a local street fair happening but we also noticed that British flag and symbols were everywhere. Since I was sure that we were still in Colorado, I asked around. A local told us that the British flag and symbols were flying because GOTR – Gentlemen of the Road Stopover was in town. Since I knew nothing about GOTR or Stopovers or Mumford & Sons – a British rock band, hello Firefox and Google.
What I discovered blew me away – A Stopover according to the Gentlemen of the Road website is ..”A celebration of a real place, with real people. It’s a bridge between the culture of a music festival and actual culture as lived by real-life people. We bring the music, the stage, the flags and the fans; everything else belongs to the town. Their energy and enthusiasm, their civic pride… their favorite local beer…” Whaatt? I think this is so cool. This is what I’d call a true public private partnership at the community level. This year, before Salida there were Stopovers in Walla Walla, Washington, Aviemore, Scotland, Waverly, Iowa and Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
While, we didn’t have an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the festival experience, we did tour the Salida street festival where another surprise awaited us. We found festival goers sitting on a parklet outside of Currents Steak and Seafood Restaurant enjoying the afternoon. A tip of the hat to Salida for their willingness to embrace an urban innovation to spur economic development, community collaboration and enhance the pedestrian experience.
Salida, a bustling arts community south of Denver may have missed a opportunity to encourage more impulse visitors to the street festival and the Stopover by using a generic road closure festival sign. But for the adventurous traveler through the area, it was a detour worth the time and effort.