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Next up was the Baby Boomerama, what Cain calls "the primordial seed for the Denver Modernism Show," followed by a series of shows for toy and doll collectors that continue to this day. Over the years, Dana has lured a who's-who of special guests from the mid-century pop-culture pantheon to Denver for these growing expos: Big Daddy Roth, Tiny Tim, Lost in Space child star Billy Mumy, Maureen McCormick, Adam West, Julie Newmar and others.

"Then, in this century, I realized that I wanted to do something that meant more. I realized that I had the ability to gather like-minded people together." That's when she started doing the Athena Festival, a new-agey gathering for Tarot readers and fortune tellers and other purveyors of metaphysical disciplines. "And then I wanted even bigger things," she adds, and the Colorado Chocolate Festival and Denver Modernism shows evolved. Of the latter she says, "I was finally doing something I'd been wanting to do forever. Everyone said it wouldn't work, but sure enough, it did work, and that was a turning point. The rest is history."

As for the upcoming Denver Style Expo, Dana went into it a little bit blind. She'd spoken many times with local designer Mona Lucero about working together in some capacity; the Denver Style Expo grew out of those talks. Lucero says she wasn't sure Denver was quite ready for something the caliber of a Fashion Week, but was interested in helping out. So in her inimitable manner, Dana chose to plow forward with something big and tailored to the Denver style set. "She was really humble about it," Lucero recalls. She said to me, 'I don't know much about fashion.'" Lucero and fellow fashion maven Brandi Shigley came on board as consultants.

"Fashion is a whole mysterious world to me," Dana notes. "To me, it's not like the art community, where everybody knows each other. My strategy has been to partner myself up with some big local names in fashion, and Mona's got those fashion chops." On the business end of the expo, Dana recently announced the participation of three Denver reality-show stars: designer Mondo Guerra, hair stylist Charlie Price and drag queen Nina Flowers. And to that roster, she's added the Denver Style Awards, a contest in several categories. "I always start new shows by saying, 'Okay, where's the contest?" she says. "People love competing; they like contests. They have this innate need to know who's best in anything."

So, too, with the quirky Denver County Fair, which will revolve around new-urban competitions of every kind, from classic pie contests to citified skateboard rodeos. "The Denver County Fair will be the mecca of contests," Dana effuses. "There will be hundreds of them." In addition, there will be a DIY craft tent sponsored by Fancy Tiger and a tent focused on urban animals, from dogs, cats and hamsters to backyard chickens and rabbits. There will be a glorious food tent and a produce market. There will be a fashion tent with tattoo contests and more. There will be green, holistic and buy-local components, not to mention a carnival and an honest-to-God sideshow. There will be deep-fried everything, 4-H rocketry and a huge juried art exhibition. How does she do it?

"I live alone now, with no guy or kids or even pets, so I have a lot of time to really focus," she explains. "Left to my own devices, I tend to come up with really big ideas. The County Fair was not my idea, but I'm not sure it would be happening if I hadn't jumped in and said I'd do it." As it turns out, artists Tracy Weil and Chandler Romeo casually brought up the concept at a party within earshot of Dana. It turned into a conversation. She turned it around in her mind afterward and was on the horn to them the next day, saying, "Let's do this thing."

"First we had the visions of grandeur, and then the work set in," says Weil, who now handles graphics, branding and sponsorships as a partner in building the fair. "It's shaping up even better than I thought it would," he adds. "It's good to create a thing from the ground up and make it a little bit different." Different, yes...but for a reason.

In her usual community-driven fever, Dana says, "I want people to leave being inspired to go home and start making crafts or grow a garden or start raising rabbits. Each pavilion will have so many touchstones, something that will inspire people. I want them to leave thinking, 'Holy crap! Denver is the coolest place on earth!' The fair will help to solidify and expand on Denver's whole brand as a new creative capital."

She really believes that, and when the shows are done and over, she puts her money on it. Dana remains "on" throughout her rare off periods, trolling the galleries, meeting artists and, more important, buying their work. This she does on a totally volunteer basis and out of love for the local artist community. "I'd pit Denver's art scene against any other in the country, and it's because we've got so much artistic chutzpah," Dana says. "The gallery scene has so many really viable art districts, each one cool in its own right, and our co-op scene is absolutely the best in the country. In any other art city, co-ops are looked upon like dirt. But that's how you grow new talent, and we have an amazing band of emerging artists." Her home has been redecorated and converted to accommodate her extensive collection with contrasting walls, installation environments, even a room with a bright-green AstroTurf carpet. But her involvement as a promoter and patron of the arts goes so much further than that.

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7 comments
Helena
Helena

Dana are you into the Enneagram, or is that the author? I do event planning, spiritual retreats, marketing for Sunrise Ranch Retreat Center so I loved reading about you!

Bored
Bored

Dana is a legend in her own mind. Her events are boring and self serving.

Rick Griffith
Rick Griffith

This lady could be the hardest working gal in showbiz. You just gotta love what she does for our city.

Acneth
Acneth

If you don't love Dana, it's possible that you are dead inside.

Guest
Guest

Dana Cain is all that's right about Denver. Love that girl!

Dana Cain
Dana Cain

Hi, Helena. I am actually certified and trained to teach the Enneagram. I love it ... I studied with Julia Foster, who learned it from Helen Palmer. What type are you? Event Planning is a dream job for 7s! :) Thanks for the nice comment.

Dana Cain
Dana Cain

Sorry you are bored. I will try to do better.

 
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