BEHIND THE HIGHER GROUND FAIR: A THOUSAND STORIES AND A LOT OF WORK
With three years of the annual Higher Ground Fair having come and gone, it’s still hard to fully comprehend its uniqueness and the complexity involved in bringing together such a mix of interests and means for celebrating the tradition and innovation that abounds in the Rocky Mountain region. It takes a dedicated group of exhibitors, demonstrators, performers, and speakers—not to mention hundreds of volunteers—to help grow this celebration of the six Rocky Mountain states and their native first nations.
The fair is already amassing its own tales of triumph over rain, snow, freezing temperatures and falling soot from mountain wildfires to bring this event to life and help it become a primary fundraiser for Feeding Laramie Valley’s food equality programs.
Other narratives of event planning and delivery pale in comparison to the creativity, commitment and love (yes, love!) the participants and organizers of the Higher Ground Fair offer as we work together to envision, bring to life, and nourish the Higher Ground Fair.
As a writing intern at Feeding Laramie Valley this semester, I’m very new to this event. But hearing staff and volunteers tell stories of the fair, I found my interest peaked and wanted to hear more. When I was given the green light to launch a blog about the whole thing, I was handed the perfect excuse to reach out to one of the Rocky Mountain’s pre-eminent singers and now a regular at the fair, Hazel Miller—as always, performing with her incredible band.
When I emailed Hazel and asked if she’d be willing to share some of her thoughts about the Higher Ground Fair, she wrote back almost immediately. She wrote,
“I have developed a great affinity for the Higher Ground Festival. The premise of the fair is profound and interesting. We love the acceptance from the audience of our music and our efforts to be ourselves. The most memorable experience I've had with HGF is my friendship with Gayle Woodsum and her hard working staff and volunteers. The equally amazing experience I had is with the audience's enthusiasm and willingness to come along on with us to dance and have a great time. This year gifted all of us with better & warmer weather, younger ages of children & their parents.”
The more time I spend with the people who make Feeding Laramie Valley and the Higher Ground Fair happen, the more I’m learning and the more I realize that love and support—as noted by Hazel—is key to this environment of caring and sharing throughout our community. Such work begins with the work of the Hazel Miller Band and many other fair supporters.
According to the Ark Magazine, “[Miller]and her band are known for using their mastery of the universal language of music to tailor their shows to match the mood of the audience.” This is a quality that shows up each year at the Higher Ground Fair and enhances elements of love and support as the Hazel Miller Band echoes throughout the fairgrounds, moving everyone to sway and dance to the sound.
This experience is often underrated, but there is no better way to engage with the expansive audience of young children, parents, students, and elders alike. There is no better way to build community, share experiences, and find solutions than through this environment where such solutions can be proposed and where such solutions are being practiced across the Rocky Mountain region.
So, if you were unable to make it out to see the Hazel Miller Band this year, make sure to come to our next annual Higher Ground Fair scheduled for September 21 and 22, 2019. Better yet, be in touch soon to find out about all the ways you can become a part of this amazing community event!