Their question to me: “How can you hold Monu-Palooza this year, with everything that’s going on?” My answer-question to them: “How can we NOT hold Monu-Palooza this year, with everything that’s going on?” And thus it was, thanks to a bunch of people … our fourth annual music festival in downtown Monument’s Limbach Park — and the best one yet, all factors considered.

The easiest thing would’ve been to say “too many obstacles; see you next year” and join the star-studded lineup of Events Not Happening in 2020. But in the spirit of just saying no to the New Normal and with the help of our friends including Erica Romero, Tom Tharnish and the Town of Monument staff, the five-band, all-day Labor Day Eve hoedown was a timely celebration of community and a terrific sendoff to a weird summer.

This effort was aided by a most propitious late August bump in park crowd “allowance” from 175 to 250 (don’t get me started on the topic of citizens and businesses needing official permission to engage in life, liberty and the pursuit of subsistence and/or entertainment) and boosted by a band lineup that brought folks out from their bunkers and from behind their masks, for the most parts. The homegrown nature of the music (Monument-based WireWood Station, Skin & Bones, Ashtonz and Eighty3 and the J. Miller band out of Black Forest) and our sponsors (Hope Counseling & Hypnotherapy, K&A Mechanical, My Door Company, Schur Success Realty and Auction) helped to complete the picture, in terms of local morale-building.

Adding to the festival atmosphere were our food truck-vendors: Mateo’s (my old friend Matt Spain, who ran the grill at Phil Long-Chapel Hills during my days there a decade ago), Kona Ice (owned by perennial ’Palooza supporters Ray and Karen Mowry), Big Papa’s Grill (Jim Cox’s “hot dogs with benefits” operation that was also with us last year) and my fellow Cherry Springs Ranch resident Emily Cordova’s uber-popular funnel cakes.

Couldn’t have pulled the thing off without the likes of Merrilee Ellis (known for her professional forays into hypnosis and for doing the heavy lifting at our “Meat and Moo-sic” barn events at Searle Ranch), Merrilee’s girl Friday Sandy Coyne of Monument Academy, sound man Scott Allen of Castle Rock (an A-plus for the day), lightmeister John Kunkel of Colorado Springs and roadies-for-the-day Jason Golec, Joe Woodard and Kelenn O’Connor. Thanks to all of you and to the bands for working at way below “scale” … don’t tell anybody!

The math doesn’t really work on paper: not sure how half the crowd and 33% fewer sponsors equals twice the fun? Must be something to do with the social drought conditions we’ve endured all summer (or that some folks have endured; I’ve been something of a conscientious objector all along). The human, logistical and meteorological pieces — thanks to The Great Weatherman for keeping the snow away for a couple of days! — all fell into place, and it was a truly gratifying sight to see so many friends and neighbors gathered for the occasion. Almost like old times, you might say.

Charlie Searle has lived in Monument since 1994 and is active in a variety of pursuits in the Tri-Lakes area, as his tagline “Meat, Motors, Music, Media” attests. Contact Charlie at

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