Is it too late to write a “nothing” column? Surely not. After all, it was just last weekend that Telluride celebrated its fabled Nothing Festival, an anti-festival of sorts. In case you’re new to this region, you should know that Telluride’s summer is filled with festivals. The whole thing started with the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which triumphantly put on its 36th annual show a few weeks ago.
About the same time as the Bluegrass Festival began, a brash young couple, Bill and Stella Pence, and several other equally young film scholars and future movie industry leaders created the first Telluride Film Festival. The film event, which still holds forth on Labor Day weekend, soon won world recognition and became a must for international film buffs and professionals alike.
These, of course, were soon followed by the Telluride Jazz Festival – now the Telluride Jazz Celebration, The Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Mountainfilm, The Wild West Fest, and coming up in August alone, The Tech Festival, the Telluride Cajun Festival, the Festival of the Arts, The Mushroom Festival, and, of course, the Telluride Film Festival, followed by the Blues and Brews Festival in September. No wonder a local or two came up with the idea of the Nothing Festival, with the motto, “Thank you for not participating.”
Oh, and did I mention the After-The-Film-Festival Festival, a couple of days of film festival highlights for Telluride’s hard-working locals, who of course are working too hard keeping the town going to attend the regular fest? Mountainfilm often has a post-festival film series as well. Somewhere in all this, Telluride has inaugurated its newer endeavor, the Independent Film Festival.
Happily, Telluride’s Nothing Festival is so low-key you seldom see news stories about this non-event. Actually, if you want to go to the trouble, you can find a small blurb about the Nothing Festival on the web, along with short paragraphs about most of the other festivals and a place to click on for reservations for these events. But because the Nothing Festival encourages locals to use the weekend as a laid-back, mini-vacation, you won’t find welcoming banners, promotional sales and retail specials, music, or commercial tie-ins. Local residents recapture Telluride’s streets, parks and other public places from the thousands of visitors who flock to its festivals, filling its streets and the town’s already limited parking places.
Telluride, of course, has a love-hate relationship with its festivals. Love the business – hate the bustle and the over-crowding. That’s why the Nothing Festival in mid-summer is so popular. Or, maybe I should say, “unpopular.” I really have nothing more to say about the Nothing Festival.