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When you think of the hallmark of spring, does your blood boil with the desire to wipe it off the face of the lawn?  For too many people seeing the first, cheerful blossoms of the dandelion the answer is “yes.”

Rethink your rage by learning more about this lowly lawn weed at the Dandelion Festival, Saturday, April 24, at the Bandshell on the corner of Broadway and Canyon in Boulder.  “It’s a yellow day, a way to enjoy spring,” says co-organizer Deb Sanders, “we want to help people walk the eco-talk and support businesses that use green practices.” 

Through food, music, and seminars, the festival aims to make Boulder a dandelion-friendly city by focusing on its benefits and deliciousness.  Vendors offer everything from recipes to eco-friendly gardening advice on controlling weeds by natural selection.

“We focus on sustainable lawn care,” Sanders said, noting that organizers aren’t out to get rid of lawns, just help people understand how to manage them organically.  “Lawns are lovely, they’re good at pulling carbon from the atmosphere and nice for kids and pets to play on.  So let’s have healthy ones.”

Sponsored by the Citizens for Pesticide Reform, a branch of the Rocky Mountain Center for Peace and Justice, the dandelion festival is education in a fun, festive way, says Betty Ball, co-administrator for the Center. “We’re trying to have an impact on lessening the amount of pesticides used.  People think it’s a sign of healthy lawn to be dandelion-free, but pesticides aren’t safe.”

Once word spread that a festival was in the works, huge interest from the community surfaced, with people requesting space to share their expertise in celebrating plants most people loathe.

“The idea that dandelions are enemies and we should spray them harms the planet,” says Keynote speaker Brigitte Mars, herbalist and author of the Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, “they feed insects, animals, and people.”  Mars will be speaking on the value of wild, edible, and medicinal weeds.

“The whole idea is to rethink the American lawn, which uses water we don’t have.  There’s a rumor that dandelions kill lawns, which stems from grass dying off from a lack of water, and only dandelions survive.  People think that they killed the lawn, but they didn’t.  They just don’t need lots of water or fertilizer to survive,” Mars said.

Sanders understands many hate this charming lawn invader.  “Many people dislike them, so if you really want that war, do hand combat.  There are really great tools that are therapeutic to jab into the ground, pull and grab that weed up.”  Hot, boiling water poured into sidewalk cracks stems the encroachment of the weed, she said, as well as concoctions made from soaps. 

To learn tips like these and recipes that spell dandelion doom, the festival offers short classes on how to keep your yard pesticide-free.  But the big focus is on how to use it as part of your culinary garden, which at my house, is one way to ensure that a plant won’t grow – the minute I want it to, it gets fussy.

Dishing up dandelions, festival sponsors and Boulder Farmer’s Market vendors will feature quiche, pupusas, dandelion blossom fritters, cookies, and soda made with dandelion and burdock root.  Acoustic music by Kimmerjae Johnson, Harper Phillips and Choosing June is scheduled throughout the day,

The bottom line is that “this is just a really great day,” says Ball, “dandelions are beautiful, fun.  Kids like to make chains to wear as crowns.”  So pick some for yourself and a friend, braid them into a crown and head on down to the Dandelion Festival.

If you go: 

What:  Dandelion Festival

When:  Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where:  The Bandshell, Broadway and Canyon, Boulder.

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