Separate ideas led to Rock Ledge’s Aug. 27 ‘Fiddles, Vittles & Vino’ fest

       In the past year, Rock Ledge Ranch leaders received two happy ideas for events at the city-owned historic site.
       One was from the Sons and Brothers Band. When the bluegrass group played at Rock Ledge last August, its members suggested that the 220-acre ranch off 30th Street - technically inside the Garden of the Gods - would be a great place for a bluegrass festival.
       Then the owner of Sencha, a downtown restaurant, suggested a food- and wine-tasting event by some of the independendent eateries in Colorado Springs.
       Thus was born Rock Ledge's first-ever Fiddles, Vittles and Vino festival.
       “This is a perfect place for both those events,” Cheryl Catalano, lead interpreter for Rock Ledge, said this week as she helped the ranch get prepared for the festival that will start Saturday morning, Aug. 27. “We're always looking for ways to raise additional money we can put back into restoration funds for the ranch.”
       Starting at 10 a.m., the 11-hour event will feature nine bands in three venues - sometimes simultaneously - as well as a farmers market, cooking demonstrations and samples from about 20 local food and wine shops.
       Added Mark Gardner, a ranch volunteer who will also play in the festival with the Mark Gardner & Rex Rideout band, combining the two events “might give us a better chance to have a bang-up response the first year.”
       Featured bands are the Sons and Brothers Band, 2004 national bluegrass champions from Westcliffe; and the Badly Bent, winner of this year's Telluride bluegrass band competition.
       Band locations will be the Rock Ledge House, the Orchard House and the Homestead cabin.
       It isn't widely known, Gardner pointed out, that bluegrass music really just got started in the 1940s - led by Earl Scruggs and his “three-finger picking style that had never been heard before.” But bluegrass was in the tradition of old-time music, during and prior to the 1800s era that Rock Ledge Ranch seeks to exemplify (Gardner & Rideout will be playing such “before there was bluegrass” music at the festival).
       Other food/wine businesses that will offer samples include Ranch Foods Direct, Marigold Café, the Craftwood Inn and Hopscotch Bakery.
       Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the gate. Children 12 and under get in free. For more information, call 578-6777.

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