As the first week of the semester reaches its conclusion, concrete plans for Colorado College’s annual bluegrass festival, Blues & Shoes, are starting to materialize. Put on by CC’s Carnivore Club, the new co-chairs of the meat-loving student organization are responding to criticism last spring regarding Blues & Shoes’ lack of diversity and inclusion.
In the May 12 edition of The Catalyst, the festival received direct criticism from Colorado College Student Government Association’s newly elected Vice President of Inclusion, Sam Fesshaie. Fesshaie labeled the festival “white-washed,” also calling it “one of the least inclusive events on campus.”
The new co-chairs of Carnivore Club, juniors Noelle Edwards, Nico Predock, Nick Ravich, and Gabe Rosenthal, plan to address these criticisms with changes to this fall’s edition of the festival. Specifically, Carnivore Club is working to bring more musical diversity to be a part of the festivities, particularly artists of color. As of now, Promiscuous Stepsister will be performing in addition to CC’s Bluegrass Ensemble, and there will be an art garden present as well. The co-chairs will meet with Fesshaie later today to discuss other positive changes they can make.
“Our main focus is trying to open up Blues & Shoes to people who might not initially be interested,” said Rosenthal. “We are working to bring in local musicians to CC and around Colorado Springs.” The final lineup at the festival has yet to be announced.
“We are trying to evolve Blues & Shoes as a whole,” said Edwards. “Last year there was obviously some backlash. I was in Carnivore Club last year and I think seeing a lack of people at Blues really highlighted that there is a problem. You hear the term ‘celebration of white culture’ getting thrown around; that’s not what we want.”
The club is continuing to take suggestions from students across campus to make the event feel more inclusive for people who have otherwise felt excluded in the past. Edwards also mentioned that the club has discussed going as far as changing the name, though that is not their biggest concern right now.
“We want people to come together around food and music, regardless of their background,” says Edwards. “Hopefully these changes set the tone for years to come.”
This year’s Blues & Shoes will feature a new vegetarian option catered by Jose Muldoon’s in addition to the traditional barbecue fare.
Though the festival has historically taken place in the spring, it has been permanently moved to the fall. The new season offers a way to “welcome freshmen onto campus and make them feel included as well,” said Edwards.
Blues & Shoes takes place Sept. 16, from 12 to 7pm.
Note: The Catalyst apologizes for including a photo of three CC students in an article criticizing the lack of diversity at Blues and Shoes. There was no intended association between these students and the content of the article.