By Elizabeth Riggs

Fall is a notoriously busy season of festivals, with a jam-packed calendar of events celebrating everything from apples to pumpkins to leaves. While it may seem nearly impossible to pick and choose which festivals to attend this season, try the Colden Arts Festival and Belle Starr Music Festival as a start.

The Colden Arts Festival will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1, both days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will feature the Belle Star Music Festival on Saturday evening at Colden Lakes.

The art festival will feature more than 30 artists and craft vendors, with handmade goods and artwork ranging from ceramics to jewelry, and watercolors to soaps.

According to Colden Festival Board Member John Antkowiak, the Colden Arts Festival is a mainstay in the area, and not one to be missed.

“It’s one of the oldest festivals. It’s been here for ages,” he said. “It used to be huge. They’d have 10,000 people coming for the weekend. It was before festivals became kind of the going thing to do.”

According to Antkowiak, the festival then underwent a series of transitions, peaking, moving to Kissing Bridge, then being shortened from two days to one day, and ultimately going away altogether for a short time.

“About five years ago, the committee was reformed to try to inject some new life into it; to bring our community together to meet each other and to gather for purposes of the community,” said Antkowiak. “When my wife and I got involved with it, we in this committee put in the music festival.”

The Belle Starr, an infamous roadhouse dive bar on Glenwood Road that mysteriously burned down in the 1970s, was known for extraordinarily good blues music. The addition of the music festival to this event is a tribute to this former hot spot.

“In the 70s, it was a real hot place to be, and then literally a hot place because it burned down,” said Antkowiak with a laugh. “But the thing that’s not contested is the quality of the music that turned up in this little town and this little place locally. We decided to add music to the art festival in respect and remembrance of that, and we called it the Belle Starr concert.”

The Belle Star concert is free to the public and being held at Colden Lakes. This year’s artists include Tommy Z from 7 to 8:30 p.m., a blues radio announcer and regular performer at Sportsmen Tavern, and Tom Stahl and the Dangerfields from 9 to 10:30 p.m.

“These aren’t bar bands; these are the real deal,” said Antkowiak of the performers. “The component of music in the festival is pretty novel to it.” There will also be a variety of acoustic performers playing throughout the festival.

In addition to the artwork, crafts and music, the Colden Festival will also include food from local vendors. Several of the local restaurants in Colden will have a featured food item for sale at the festival, and the local fire company will be cooking chicken barbecues.

And that’s not all. This year’s event will also feature exhibits.

“This year’s live demonstrations will be wood turning, and we will also have a yoga demonstration from the local yoga studio, rSpace, at the Colden pavilion,” said Antkowiak.

The Colden Festival also features awards, given to the artisans for their artwork, as well as children’s activities, and much more.

“Colden has had a long history of local artists that have really good reputations. It has a real legacy of fine artists and the craftsmen just come out of the woodwork,” said Antkowiak. “A lot of the things are actually made in Colden and the surrounding areas, so a lot of local stuff gets featured.”

Also, in conjunction with the festival, Colden will be holding its weekly farmer’s market on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the Bread of Life Outreach Center will be hosting a rummage sale on Friday from 4-7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is a $1 entry fee for the rummage sale.

The Colden Arts Festival is open to the public and free for all ages. For more information on the Colden Festival, visit their website at or visit their Facebook page @coldenfestival.