In 2010, three individuals were determined to initiate the only Old-Time music festival in a 1,000-mile radius, and they’ve been doing it ever since. This July will be the 7th annual Central Rockies Old-Time Music Association (CROMA) festival in Berthoud, CO from July 6th-10th. The festival features a variety of performers from across North America, including Foghorn Stringband (self-identified as “Ass Kickin’ Redneck Stringband Music”), Erynn Marshall & Carl Jones, the Red Squirrel Chasers, the Bootlickers, Spencer and Rains, and Vesta Johnson accompanied by her grandson, Steve Hall. The festival also hosts a variety of workshops, including an introduction to flatfoot dancing, how to “call” Old-Time dances, instrument and regional tune showcases, and varying levels of instrument instruction, like clawhammer banjo and fiddle bowing styles. See the full schedule of the festival here.
One of the most anticipated parts of the CROMA festival are the barn dances, which are held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Attendees can look forward to instruction of each dance prior to songs starting, in addition to having a caller “call” or announce (and even sometimes sing) each move of the dance to the crowd. Dances vary from squares to full-group circles and reels (lines).
“It’s the opportunity to bring people together to share and celebrate Old-Time music,” said Bob Zuellig, one of the founding members of CROMA. The festival has gained national attention and draws people from across the country, which is in alignment with the non-profit’s mission: to preserve and present Old-Time music. “Personally, I have formed some awesome friendships with folks from other parts of the country that otherwise wouldn’t have come together,” he said.
Despite the feel-good atmosphere and growing success of the festival, it doesn’t come without its challenges. “Honestly, we had absolutely no idea what the heck we were getting ourselves into - how much work it would take, if anyone would show up, if it would stick... Today there are six of us who continue do most of the heavy lifting in organizing, and planning is pretty much year-round for a few of us,” Zuellig said, “The hardest part is we are unable to completely support the festival solely through ticket sales and [so we] rely on donations and fundraising for over a third of our budget. We have some awesome sponsors that have been with us since the beginning, and we couldn’t do it without them.”
Watch a video from a CROMA festival goer:
Tickets are still available for the festival next week, and range from $20-$125 depending on what portions of the festival you want to access. Children 15 and under are free to attend, and seniors are eligible for a discount. Purchase your tickets here! Individuals and bands may sign up for the newsletter, and businesses can learn more about membership benefits, including advertising, right here. I will be bringing you festival coverage on CROMA next week, so stay tuned!
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All photos per CROMA and the artists featured. This article was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.