Get ready for sensory overload at this weekend's Denver Black Arts Festival. In keeping with this year's "Stimulating the Senses" theme, Denver's 17th annual African-American cultural celebration aims to overwhelm with music, pageantry and art. "We're giving people an opportunity to experience all the senses -- touch, smell, sight, sound and taste," says Perry Ayers, the festival's executive director. "We want to show people how the different aspects of African-American art can affect your daily life."
The extravaganza, centered at the Elvin Caldwell Plaza on 26th Avenue and Glenarm Place in Five Points, features three stages: the Kuumba stage, which will focus on jazz, blues and reggae; the Joda Village stage, whose specialty will be in hip-hop, step, modern, tap and traditional Caribbean dance; and the F. Cosmo Harris Gospel stage, which will be devoted solely to religious music. "There's going to be everything from traditional rhythms to Christian poetry readings," says Ayers. "And we're covering the whole gamut of gospel music."
And don't forget the Boogaloo Celebration Parade, marching under the banner "Gimme a Beat." Starting at 11 a.m. tomorrow, the parade will snake down 26th Avenue from Williams Street to Washington Avenue. "It's true pomp and circumstance," promises Ayers. "There is so much color and groove, from floats to stilt dancers to the Cleo Parker Robinson troupe."
Entry to the festival is free, but organizers are asking for a $1 donation from all attendees. "It's all about interacting with our families and our community," says Ayers.
The Black Arts Festival kicks off at noon today with the Heritage African Drummers and Dancers performing at the Denver Pavilions, followed by a sidewalk art sale from 2 to 6 p.m. at Booker T. Washington Square, 25th Avenue and Washington Street. There will also be tours of Five Point galleries. Other activities include a community mural painting, a book fair, a children's pavilion, an international food court and a sculpture garden. Organizers hope to see more than 100,000 attendees at the festival, which continues tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m..
Bastille Day takes to the streets
If the Fourth of July passed you by, here's another chance to wave the red, white and blue (of the French flag, that is): today's Bastille Day Street Festival, sponsored by Alliance Française de Denver. "The street festival is designed for Denver at large to celebrate French-American friendships," says Christophe Guérard, executive director of Alliance Française.
Bastille Day is a French national holiday that marks the storming of the infamous Bastille prison in 1789, an uprising that sparked the French Revolution. And while some bash 'em today, back then the French were revolutionary pals with the upstart U.S. There won't be any riots at the fest, but there will be international music (accordions, Monsieur?), wine tastings, food vendors, an exhibit titled A Photographic Journey Through Provence, and information on where to take French language lessons locally.
"Colorado's French community is not particularly large, but we want everyone to know that we are here," says Guérard.
Today's celebration (the actual holiday is on July 14) is free and runs from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Galapago Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. For more information, call 303-831-0304 or visit www.afdenver.org.
Oh, oui, and because everyone knows that the French take their food very seriously, several area restaurants are serving up decadent prix fixe menus on Monday; for reservations, call Le Central at 303-863-8094, Tante Louise at 303-355-4488, or the Savoy Restaurant in Berthoud at 1-970-532-4095. -- Julie Dunn
You can add a new page to your multicultural catalogue and a new dance to your repertoire at the annual Boulder Romanian Festival, scheduled for Saturday, July 26. The festival will present a virtual tour of the country through food, dance and fine embroidery, as well as with photographs of its famous painted churches. Local dancers will perform the traditional hora every hour; festival organizer Ingrid Fotino notes that their costumes are "works of art in themselves" because of their exquisitely embroidered decorations. After the performances, the dancers will share their expertise with anyone who wants to learn the steps. Fotino encourages both "the little ones and the big ones" to participate. If all that dancing leaves you with an appetite, traditional fare such as stuffed cabbage leaves and vegetable and chicken stews, along with desserts and non-alcoholic drinks, will be available from several vendors. Proceeds from the festival will go to the organization's charity fund, which directly benefits a variety of groups in Romania. The festivities will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 1300 block of Pearl Street in Boulder. Call 303-449-2586 for more information. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz
Celtic culture comes alive
Are you a McCormick, O'Flanagan or Reilly? O'None of the above? No matter: All are welcome at this weekend's ninth annual Colorado Irish Festival. "We want to whet people's appetite for Irish music, food and traditions," says entertainment director Brian Clancy.