Festivals keep communities active all summer
No matter where you reside in Northern Colorado or the Boulder Valley, there’s likely going to be a festival, a fair, a jam or an art show this summer.
The region’s towns and cities have at least one major event with music, food and fun to draw the crowds. Many of the events have been around for decades, taking off a year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are now back on track expecting large turnouts.
“Colorado is sunny and beautiful and people like to be outside,” said Samantha Calhoon, recreation program coordinator for the city of Longmont Recreation Services. “People like to feel at home in their hometown and want to be part of a larger community and to celebrate and have a good time.”
The city of Longmont is changing the name, location and time of year of its longstanding Rhythm on the River music and arts festival. The 26th annual event is moving from Roger’s Grove Park to Roosevelt Community Park and from July to September.
Now called Rhythm at Roosevelt, the family-friendly festival will be 2-10 p.m. Sept. 16, featuring live music, a new pop-up roller skating rink and vendor, food and beer booths, plus inflatables and a mobile ropes course, all for free.
“We decided it was time to transform it, to shoot for cooler weather and a more central downtown location,” Calhoon said. “Roosevelt Park has seen lots of big festivals and events in the past. It’s really close to Main Street, right downtown in the center of everything.”
Rhythm on the River started out as a summer party to give attendees an opportunity to learn about the city’s services, meet city staffers and have fun — the event continues to offer that with about 20 to 30 vendor and sponsor booths of local organizations and businesses offering swag and giveaways. Additional booths will be part of Bricks Marketplace, a popup market where local makers will sell their arts, crafts and other products at about a dozen booths, offered through a partnership between the city and Bricks Retail Inc. in Longmont. There also will be about eight to 12 booths and food trucks with a variety of foods to appeal to everybody, plus another five booths for Longmont breweries to show what Longmont has to offer in craft beer.
“It’s just something fun and unique and something the whole family can do together while having amazing bands on stage,” Calhoon said. “You can enjoy the live music and enjoy a family activity at the same time.”
The bands, primarily from Longmont and Colorado, will play various styles of music all day on the main stage in the east side of the park. The pop-up rink will be in the transformed space for the ice skating rink and something that hasn’t been done there before.
“The atmosphere is going to be fun and upbeat, and you can expect some exciting entertainment,” Calhoon said. “Last year was the first year we were back with a big festival since COVID, and it felt like normal. … In the last year or so, a lot of festivals have bounced back really well. … Everybody is ready to celebrate the warm months, get out with their families and see their neighbors. I think we’re all ready to celebrate normalcy.”
Like Rhythm at Roosevelt, Broomfield Days will be held in September — this year’s event will be 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sept. 23 in Midfield Park. The outdoor festival will kick off with a community pancake breakfast, followed by the Mayor’s Cup 5K and Fun Run and a parade down Midway Boulevard.
“The pancake breakfast is a community favorite, The Lions Club serves hundreds of plates of pancakes and bacon,” said Kay Gazaway, community events coordinator for the city and county of Broomfield. “The Broomfield Days Parade is a longstanding tradition, and many generations of Broomfielders have been in this parade.”
Other events during Broomfield Days will include a Dock Dogs Competition for dogs to show off their water-based agility tricks, a classic car show, a clown contest, a duck race, a golf tournament, inflatables and a petting zoo. There also will be more than 300 vendor booths, 20 food vendors and two beer gardens, plus live performances all day on three stages.
“This event brings the community together to have a fun day with family and friends celebrating what is special about Broomfield,” Gazaway said. “Broomfield Days is a community tradition that many parents and grandparents remember participating in as kids. We see many multi-generation families at the festival to celebrate that hometown feeling in Broomfield.”
Broomfield Days began as a way for the community to support local nonprofits — now for-profit vendors are asked to make a donation from their proceeds to their favorite nonprofit.
Interest in the event post-pandemic started cautiously in 2021 and gained momentum in 2022, Gazaway said.
“Residents demonstrated how much they love their festivals the past two years by coming out in droves, and we are happy to have them back,” Gazaway said. “Now our vendor and attendance numbers are back to pre-COVID times.”
Boulder has multiple festivals and events starting with Bolder Boulder to appeal to runners and continuing through the core summer months with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, ongoing for more than 60 years.
“(Festivals are) a great link between experiences, the environment and amenities, like hiking and the dining scene,” said Emiliano Lake-Herrera, director of visitor experience and community partnerships for Visit Boulder. “The reason to come here is to go to an event, but there are so many other things to do when you are here.”
In its 43rd year, Bolder Boulder is the big kick-off to the summer season, since it’s on Memorial Day, and at one time, it was the largest 10K in the nation, Lake-Herrera said.
“Bolder Boulder is a quintessential community event,” Lake-Herrera said. “We have such a community of athletes here. It’s also a community outpouring and expression of camaraderie.”
Leading up to the race will be the Boulder Creek Festival May 26-29 along the Boulder Creek Path, where there will be more than 30 bands on three stages and 300 artisan booths. There also will be the Bolder Boulder Sports Exhibit on Pearl Street 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 27-28.
Race day will start with the first race wave at 6:55 a.m. with a total of 40 waves and 84 different starting times up to 9:15 a.m. The professional women’s race will start at 11:15 a.m. and the men’s race at 11:36 a.m.
“That’s actually what allows Bolder Boulder to work really well. It doesn’t get congested because we’re metering people out,” said Cliff Bosley, race director of Bolder Boulder.
Bosley expects a turnout of about 45,000 people, ramping up post-pandemic from a previous attendance of 48,000 to 52,000. The race course will begin at 30th and Walnut streets and end up at Folsom Field, where there will be an expo, live bands and food and beverage vendors. Along the way, there will be 40 different bands and entertainment features.
“It attracts runners from age six to 90. … It’s one great big experience with 50,000 stories,” Bosley said.
The Shakespeare Festival, a professional theater company in association with the University of Colorado, will present a lineup of five Shakespearean plays June 11-Aug. 13 at the CU Boulder campus.
“The Shakespeare Festival is great because it combines local performances, world-class performing arts, in an outdoor space,” Lake-Herrera said. “This mirrors the outdoors with a cultural experience.”
The festival, as well as other Boulder events, is getting back to selling out to full capacity post-pandemic.
“Attendance is still recovering,” Lake-Herrera said. “There’s still room for growth. It’s important to patronize local art and go to events.”
Greeley has large well-known, long-standing events like the Greeley Stampede and the Greeley Blues Jam. This year, the Stampede summer western celebration will be June 22-July 4 and will include events such as the Western Art Show, Mutton Bustin, live music on the Civitas Park Music Stage, Carnival Americana, parades, fireworks and the Kids Korral with everything from a petting zoo to the Sheep Stampede.
The Greeley Blues Jam Music Festival will be June 2-3 in two different locations, bringing in an expected crowd of 3,000 or more people. The family-friendly festival used to be a part of the Stampede and the Greeley Area Chamber of Commerce and is now an independent nonprofit.
The festival, in its 18th year this year, will kick off 4 p.m. to midnight June 2 in downtown Greeley on the Ninth Street Plaza. The event will continue noon-9 p.m. the next day in Island Grove Regional Park.
“Friday night is for downtown Greeley. Saturday is technically our festival,” said Scott Ehrlich, president of the Greeley Blues Jam.
The Friday Fest will feature 20 venues of live blues music consisting of bars, restaurants and an outdoor stage in a GO-CUP District, where beverages can be taken from one venue to the next. Saturday, there will be continuous music on the large Blues 101 Stage featuring national acts and local acts on a smaller stage, plus an after party with live music from Próxima Parada, a Spanish and Portuguese band.
“It makes for a big party. It’s pretty cool,” Ehrlich said. “It’s a fun-filled atmosphere in a park setting with lots of food vendors and vendors selling craft items.”
For the first time this year, there will be music at the State Armory Event Center with the Danny Derail Band performing to draw in the younger crowds.
“It’s a band that’s hot on Spotify,” Ehrlich said. “We’re definitely trying to expand our demographic and, more importantly, keep the event going. … The atmosphere is fantastic. The lineup is good. We literally draw from all over the country. … It’s a competitive landscape because there are a lot of festivals and events going on.”
Loveland has several festivals, including the Loveland Corn Roast Festival and two art shows in August that will wrap up summer.
The Corn Roast Festival, in its 127th year, will be 5-10 p.m. Aug. 25 and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Old Fairgrounds Park.
The family-friendly festival will kick off Aug. 25 with an introduction of the grand marshals, who will appear in the parade the next day, followed by a corn shucking contest at 5:30 p.m., a competitive way to shuck enough corn for sales the next day. On Aug. 26, there will be a parade in downtown Loveland at 9:30 a.m., then events will return to the park, where there will be food vendors, a kids’ zone, a beer garden and live music.
“It’s the highlight of the season. It’s an agricultural nod to the area,” said Cindy Mackin, visitor’s services manager for the city of Loveland. “It’s grown into a fun piece of Americana.”
The two art shows and a possible third art show will be held Aug. 11-13 in two parks along 29th Street. The 39th annual Sculpture in the Park will be held in the Benson Sculpture Garden with 160 national and international artists, including 27 new to the show, displaying and selling 21,000 pieces of sculpture.
“It’s the largest outdoor juried sculpture show in the U.S.,” Mackin said. “It’s an amazing event of its caliber that lives in our city. It’s one of the most unique, coolest events we do.”
The show will begin with a patron party 3-8 p.m. Aug. 11 and open to the public 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 12 and 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Aug. 13.
Art in the Park at North Lake Park also will have a patron party and operate the same hours as Sculpture in the Park. The show, operating for more than 50 years, will feature more than 160 craftsmen and more than 50 fine artisans; plus, there will be food trucks and music for a more casual vibe.
“They’re right across the street from each other,” Mackin said. “It’s really wonderful for art lovers to walk around in a beautiful setting, and they get to experience all kinds of art.”
Fort Collins has several festivals, too, like the FoCoMX music festival and the Taste of Fort Collins.
FoCoMX, presented by the Fort Collins Musicians Association and Odell Brewing Co., will showcase more than 400 bands on 40 stages April 28-29. The event, in its 15th year this year, earned the unofficial title, “The Biggest Little Festival in America.”
“We are grateful to have a vibrant music community supported by music lovers and filled with talented musicians,” as stated on the website, https://focoma.org/focomx.
Taste of Fort Collins will feature live local music, food and business vendors, and a kids’ zone June 10-11 in Washington Park.