I figured if I'd seen one Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, I'd seen them all. Well, I was wrong. For this year's fifth annual Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan's Lake, 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, organizers have put together a party that's bigger and better in almost every way. For the first time, there will be booze and boats! The Denver City Council changed the rules for Sloan's Lake, allowing beer to be sold at festivals there just in time for the boats -- which hail from the American Dragon Boat Association in Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- to hit the water. (In the spirit of Colorado, only Coors products will be on tap.) In addition, this festival lasts for two days instead of one -- and that's not just an extra day to get your drink on. From 10 a.m. today until 7 p.m. Sunday, vendors will open their booths so that Asian aficionados can conduct some serious shopping.
If more time to shop isn't tempting enough, consider the mix of contemporary and traditional entertainment provided by performers such as the Japanese drum group Denver Taiko, singer- songwriter Wendy Woo, Team High Flyerz' martial acrobatics routines and much more. And that's not to mention an extra day of dragon boats on the lake.
Lastly, all the things we love about the Dragon Boat Festival are still around: the opening ceremony today at noon, complete with traditional Buddhist eye-dotting ceremony; the food; the culture; the dragon boats. "It's like visiting Asia without even leaving Colorado," says Erin Yoshimura, performing-arts chair for the festival.
And it's free.
For information, call 303-722-6852 or visit www.coloradodragonboat.org. -- Amber Taufen
Two For Tea
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is one of the metro area's crown jewels, sitting like a fairy-tale palace in the heart of the People's Republic at 1770 13th Street. Today and tomorrow, it will be the setting for the world-class Sixth Annual Rocky Mountain Tea Festival, where, in additional to its normal roster of oolongs and global delicacies, the exquisitely detailed Persian teahouse will offer a tea bazaar with tastings, a Renaissance children's tea party, a four-course tea dinner and numerous classes, including instruction in reading tea leaves. The events start this morning at 9 a.m. and end Sunday evening at 4 p.m. Admission to the festival is free, but classes are $10 apiece and the dinner is $35, with reservations recommended. For a full schedule and more information, call 303-442-4993 or visit www.boulderteahouse.com. -- Amy Haimerl
A Tisket, A Tasket
How to select art for the collector's basket.
Gertrude Stein was the ultimate art collector. Some of her friends, including Picasso and Matisse, gave her their paintings, gratis. So her auspicious wall decorations didn't cost her a cent, though she did make a pretty penny off the ones she ended up having to sell. We should all be so lucky. I've only been given one piece of artwork of note: a small drawing by local artist Bill Amundson. For those not in the know, Amundson is an amiable workaholic who turns out his marvelous satirical works by the boatload, and one drawing out of hundreds isn't going to tip the boat. But who knows? Someday it might just emerge as a rare missing link from the vast Amundson portfolio. Art collecting is such a gamble.
Yet there are those who thrive on it. Two of them, curator/collector David Irving and art appraiser Jack Kunin will reveal the ins and outs of collecting tonight at Passion or Pathology: A Collector's Night, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive. Bring a favorite artifact for discussion; for tickets, $5 to $8, call 303-571-4401. -- Susan Froyd
Sink your teeth into this benefit concert.
Jazz pianist Joe Bonner is all smiles these days. "He has this wonderful talent, and he shares that gift with everyone, so these people in the community are all giving back to him," says Jim White, manager of community affairs for Volunteers of America. White decided to get involved after watching Bonner play last fall -- and noticing that the 59-year-old's teeth were as bad as his musicianship was good. After all, throughout White's 25 years at the VOA, his job has been "matching up folks who have with folks who don't have," he points out. "This was another example of that. When Joe was growing up, his mom and dad knew he needed dental work, knew he needed braces, but they didn't have any money."
Soon White was talking with Kate Paul, president of Delta Dental, and she lined up a pair of dentists who agreed to do the work at a very reduced rate. "This oral surgeon said it was the worst occlusion he'd ever seen," remembers White. "It's like this extreme makeover for all the right reasons."
Now that the work is done, that gift is going to keep on giving, with a concert tonight featuring some of the town's top jazz artists, including drummer Paul Romaine, bassist Mark Simon, saxophonist John Gunther, pianist Pat Bianchi and international recording star Renee Marie, as well as the Bonner Party, Bonner's jazz quartet. So put your money where his mouth is from 5 to 9 p.m. at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln Street; the $15 cover all goes to paying off the last of the bills. -- Patricia Calhoun
For information, call 303-839-5100.