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The picturesque town of Green Mountain Falls, about 11 miles west of Colorado Springs, wows lovers of arts and culture with its summertime Green Box Arts Festival.

The unique cultural celebration was started in 2009 by Christopher Kirkpatrick Keesee, a New York City-based philanthropist and chairman of Kirkpatrick Bank and Kirkpatrick Oil & Gas Co., and Larry Keigwin, a choreographer and artistic director of Keigwin + Co. The festival dates to times when professional artistic companies such as the Metropolitan Opera and ballet troupes would perform on the road in the summer.

What began as an artist-in-residency program featuring Keigwin's troupe blossomed after residents expressed interest. The event now attracts up to 1,000 people and has broadened to include music, the culinary arts and classes and activities, including yoga, stargazing, conversations with artists, wine tasting and bingo.

"Every year it is an artist-in-residency program, a place for artists to come and create works of art in the atmosphere of the beauty of Green Mountain Falls," said Rachel Shortt, festival marketing director.

This summer, the festival forged a relationship with the Manitou Springs School District 14, offering children's art classes that were fully integrated into the district's summer classes.

Big names in the 2017 festival included Houston's METdance, performing pieces by nationally known choreographers, including Camille Brown's 2005 "New Second Line." Denver's vintage jazz band Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles provided music.

The 2017 artist-in-residence is Bruce Munro, an internationally known installation artist from England. He illuminated the night sky with two light-filled pieces: "Field of Light" in Flagpole Park and "Tepees" on Mountain Road Corner. These are free to see and are lighted nightly from dusk to 10 p.m. through September.

More information can be found at greenboxarts.org.

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Features Reporter/Special Sections Editor

Michelle is a features reporter and editor of The Gazette's annual Best of the Springs and FYI magazines. A Penn State journalism graduate, she joined the Gazette in 2015.

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