May 042006
 
Authors: JP Eichmiller

Mishawaka Amphitheatre, now in its 90th year of operation, is set to begin its summer outdoor concert series with the second annual “Pickin’ on the Poudre Bluegrass Festival,” May 12 and 13.

The “Mish” as it is referred to often by locals, is located 13.7 miles up Highway 14 along the Poudre Canyon and has been a staple of music enthusiasts for decades in Colorado as well as tourists and river users who enjoy stopping in for food or a drink.

“There is nothing else like it and there never will be,” said Robin Jones, owner and proprietor of Mishawaka Amphitheatre. “We have been compared to Red Rocks as one of the best venues in Colorado.”

This year’s “Pickin’ on the Poudre” festival is being produced and managed by Mishawaka interns and CSU students Sean MacAskill and Eric Farnan. The two students, who also operate Live Mountain Music – an artist management and concert promotion company – have been working since November to bring artists, stage designers and non-profit organizations together to kick off the beginning of the summer season as well as the conclusion of finals at CSU.

“We are going to be showcasing the diverse blend of acoustic music that goes on in Colorado,” said MacAskill, a junior natural resource major. “Eric and I wanted to do something that showcases the progressive acoustic roots of bluegrass.”

MacAskill and Farnan believe the Mish is the perfect setting for the festival they created last year.

“Mishawaka is a place where you can enjoy a multi-sensory experience, recreation in the day and music at night,” MacAskill said. “What sets it aside from everywhere else is the uniqueness of the land and the communal atmosphere.”

Jones values the CSU connections he has made and depends heavily on CSU student employees during the summer concert months.

“I hire an additional 45 employees for the summer months and about 60 to 70 percent of them are CSU students.”

This year’s festival is also set to feature one of CSU’s most popular homegrown bands, Head For the Hills. The four-piece string band features members who are all CSU students.

Also slated to perform during the festival are Jeff Austin (of Yonder Mountain String Band) and friends, Swing Set, The Wayward Sons, The Laughing Hands, Wildwood Hollar! and Jeff Miller to name a few.

Mishawaka’s music stage is located literally feet from the Poudre River, providing audience members with a backdrop of roaring rapids and towering mountain peaks.

“We are expecting a pretty good crowd this year,” Farnan said. “Last year over 1,200 tickets were sold for the two-day weekend and this year we are expecting sales to be better.”

Parking can be tight due to limited assigned areas along Highway 14 so concertgoers are encouraged to arrive early and obey street signs.

“Camping in designated campgrounds or the KOA down the canyon is allowed,” Jones said. “There is no camping allowed along the highway, and cars need to be moved by 2 a.m.”

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For more information on the Pickin’ on the Poudre Bluegrass Festival, visit pickinonthepoudre.net

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