Denver's Civic Center Park is the setting for one of the city's premier annual festivals: A Taste of Colorado — Photo courtesy of A Taste of Colorado
Let’s be clear: You can’t do it all, but that's no reason not to try! A Taste of Colorado, the longtime Denver festival set in Civic Center Park, offers a taste of what Colorado has to offer in every sense of the word: food, drink, art, crafts, entertainment, rides, family fun and music, music, music.
A Taste of Colorado is the city's go-to Labor Day extravaganza. This year's event runs from Friday, Aug. 29, through Monday, Sept. 1. It's sure to be jam-packed with options, so it's a good idea to make a plan to get to those events you absolutely can't miss, and then be pleasantly surprised by what you serendipitously stumble onto.
Music is definitely a festival highlight. Five stages offer up almost continuous music, from up-and-coming singer-songwriters such as Denver’s own sister act Two Girls with Guitars to Jakob Dylan's alternative rock band The Wallflowers and Grammy-winning Motown legends the Commodores. Former American Idol winner David Cook performs on Sunday during the day, while R&B group En Vogue takes the stage Friday night.
Country, alternative, rock, R&B, hip hop - it's all played out on the festival stages — Photo courtesy of A Taste of Colorado
Over the course of the weekend, a slew of country music artists remind festival-goers that Denver loves its western roots no matter how current and trendy it becomes. (And, yes, it's both.) Bands on the final day include Creedence Clearwater Revisited, featuring two members of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band CCR, and Chris Daniels & The Kings, who will close things out with a mix of R&B, funk, jump blues and good old-fashioned rock.
Local and celebrity chefs share their culinary expertise — Photo courtesy of A Taste of Colorado
Denver today is foodie central, which makes the Culinary Showcase a popular spot on the festival grounds in Civic Center Park. This year, The Food Network’s well-known pastry chef Keegan Gerhard, who owns D Bar Denver, will be on hand, as will Adrian Miller, a 2014 James Beard Award-winning author.
Miller is former special assistant to President Clinton and was deputy legislative director for former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. She's also a certified barbecue judge who has lectured on such diverse culinary topics as chicken and waffles, hot sauce, soul food and black chefs in the White House. Her book - Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time - was published in 2013.
More than 250 vendors offer crafts, clothing, artwork and more — Photo courtesy of A Taste of Colorado
With hundreds of vendors, there’s a lot of shopping to do at A Taste of Colorado, so bring your wallet and your eco-friendly shopping bag. Items range from kitschy and crafty to fine art produced by some of the region’s most talented working artists, no surprise given that Denver has not one but two thriving art-centric neighborhoods.
Fame hasn't gone to his head. He's one celebrity who takes care of his own fan mail, no highly paid assistance necessary — Photo courtesy of Top Hogs
Speaking of talent, there are pigs. Seriously. Super talented pigs. While the Top Hogs have performed on the Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman, among many other places, they’re from right here in Colorado - Centennial State porcine stars who are all about giving pigs a good name.
Who isn’t impressed by porkers who put their toys away, do a fine impression of Elvis, answer fan mail, emulate Michael Jackson’s moon walk, play golf, skateboard and pack themselves up? The clearly genius Top Hogs perform on the KidzStage Saturday evening, but they’re likely to amuse adults even more, so make plans to catch their act.
A Taste of Colorado has a cultural side, too, especially in the Festival of Mountain and Plain area, where Native artisans demonstrate Navajo weaving and other arts and Colorado’s multicultural roots and pioneer past are celebrated. There's also a lot for families and kids, too, including interesting foods offered in small servings, so parents can buy exactly the amount their offspring are likely to try or finish.
A Taste of Colorado has something for all ages — Photo courtesy of A Taste of Colorado
Admission is free, but you need tickets to purchase food, beverages and rides. Tickets, 15 for $10, are sold at booths throughout the festival, and there are ATMs on site, too. No food or drinks can be brought in.
Keep in mind that the festival is big. Your best bet for easily locating the food and drinks you want to taste, the booths you want to visit and the bands you want to hear is to download the Taste mobile app at the Google Play Store or the App Store. Like a Boy Scout, be prepared!