Although the dandelion is its namesake, Durango's second annual Dandelion Festival is about much more than spotlighting
this controversial flower. On Saturday in Rotary Park, festivalgoers can learn about organic land stewardship practices
While some may spray their lawns with chemicals to eradicate the weed, others boast about its versatility and
nutritional value. The mission of the Dandelion Festival is to discourage the former and tout the latter.
Turtle Lake Refuge is sponsoring the festival, which is a fundraiser for one of its newest projects called
Grassroots, an organic lawn and garden business.
"It was an amazing, successful event," said Refuge director Katrina Blair of the inaugural festival held last year, which raised $3,000.
There are two main goals to come from the festival.
The first is to raise awareness by letting the public know that there is an alternative to chemically treating their
lawns. Grassroots makes its own compost tea that is applied to grass to increase its health and beauty and is better
for the environment.
The second goal is to promote a movement whereby Durango, including all of its parks and schools, will be
Although Blair's vision extends beyond just preserving dandelions, it has been chosen as the poster child for this
festival in an effort to preserve honeybees and wild pollinators that dote on the yellow flowers.
Often the first wildflower to bloom and the longest to stick around, dandelions are important bee plants because many
of them produce significant amounts of nectar and pollen that fortify a colony of bees low on honey stores. A very
simple way to preserve honey bees is to stop killing the dandelions in the yard.
To help spread this message, workshops are scheduled throughout the day, including Dandelion Wine Making, Organic
Lawn Care, Bee Keeping, Natural Therapeutic Health Tips, Worm Composting and more.
Entertainment will be provided by local bands Waiting on Trial, Abundance, Aftergrass and S.O.B. as well as the
African Dance/Drum Group and Folkorico. A thrift store, kids activities and fire dances will keep the festivities
going until dark.
Of course, there will be opportunities to taste how the bitter leaves are disguised in such yummies as pesto and
salads. All parts of the plant are edible and the flowers are turned into ice cream and lemonade while the roots are
used to make tea.
Lunch can be purchased from various vendors, and Bread Not Bombs is offering a free dinner.
The Durango Bootleggers a collaboration of Ska, Carver, Steamworks and Durango Brewing, will serve its own concoction
of dandelion beer. In tune with promoting sustainability, this is a waste-free event, so be sure to bring your own
plate, cup and utensils.
Turtle Lake Refuge promotes public activities, with a focus on living (uncooked) food, including twice-a-week
living-food lunches at the Rocky Mountain Retreat, 848 East Third Ave.
Karin L. Becker teaches composition at Fort Lewis College. Reach her at becker_K @fortlewis.edu.