TELLURIDE – At 7:32 a.m. Saturday, a gray-haired man rides a chopped bicycle past the ticket tent, shouting, “NEED ONE SATURDAY TICKET! NEED ONE SATURDAY TICKET!” The four-day Telluride Bluegrass Festival sold out Friday, capping off at 10,000 per day, and apparently the scalpers have slept in.
Dave Laub, a 34-year-old music teacher from Vail, has decidedly not slept in. The bearded festivalgoer, his blue tarp beside him, is propped up in his lawn chair about 30 people from the front of the line. Behind him, more than 1,000 festivalgoers, sitting in similar lawn chairs and waiting for the gates to open, wind about 10 blocks up the street. “I am dedicated,” he said, grinning. “It’s all about getting the good spot . . . front and center. We put our chairs out here at noon yesterday, and we’ve been sitting here since 10 p.m. We woke up with a layer of ice on us.” In this deep valley, it doesn’t matter if the sun burns in the 80s or 90s – as it has for most of the festival so far. It will still dip down near or below freezing by 2 a.m. This is Laub’s first festival. Longtime festivalgoer John Rosenberg, 47, four places from the front of the line, shrugs off last night’s chills. And he came from Seaside, Fla. “It was warm!” he says. He can tell you stories about cold nights in his 16 years coming here that would curl your eyelashes. But neither cold, nor sleet, nor the smell of his unwashed buddies will keep him from sitting here overnight to get a prime spot in front of the sound board. Still, it’s not just about the spot for Rosenberg. It’s not just about seeing some of his favorite bluegrassers, such as Alison Krauss and Tony Rice. “I come for these guys,” he says, nodding at his friends. “The fact I can play backgammon with Jenny and Kevin on the park bench. It’s all about fellowship.” It’s a common theme. Walk past some of the elaborately decorated camp set-ups in Town Park and ask them where they’re from, and you’ll hear Colorado, Wyoming, California, Illinois. They met here in the ‘80s or ‘90s, decided they liked one another, and decided to come here and camp together during the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for the rest of their lives. Some arrived two weeks ago to start setting up their kitchens. None of this sounds insane to folks like Laub and Rosenberg. They just smile knowingly and wait until 10 a.m., when the doors open and the land rush begins. Most run. Rosenberg doesn't. "I used to run. I don't run anymore." He knows it's all right there waiting for him.