Tour de Fat — New Belgium's comedy, music, art, pageantry, beer-drinking, and bike riding
At its roots, Tour de Fat is meant to get people excited about riding their bicycles, but it does so through a beer-hazed vaudeville variety act. The Denver stop of the tour will start with the popular costume bike parade, one that boasted over 10,000 people last year. Then it's back to City Park to drink beer, listen to music, and get weird.
Reggie Watts at Tour de Fat 2014
There is a lot going on. Matt Kowal, the mind behind the tour for the past 10 years, has his hands full. “What I’ve been really working to do as the Creative Director is try to get the message about bicycling to penetrate through such a dense event.” This message being, ride your bike more, or even exclusively, as Tour tradition ends the day with some brave souls swapping their cars for bikes for an entire year.
Among the challenges was finding rehearsal space — something that has gotten more and more difficult each year, as many of the empty warehouses and spaces in the Denver-metro area have been bought to serve as grow houses for cannabis and other commercial space. This year, Kowal called the National Western Complex to help.
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The National Western Complex is a pretty cushy rental space. As it prepares for a decade of construction and renovation, there are even rumors of National Western putting in a bid for the 2024 Olympics. But the big stadium will remain. The New Belgium stage may have been a temporary addition, but it fit well in the space.
The extensive Tour show comprises all original content, which is why rehearsals are so important. Among the six variety acts are Yo-Yo master and comedian John Higby, the Daredevil Chicken Club and several members of the Blueman group. The Denver Tour will have three stages: the Le Tigre Grande main stage, Sputnik mobile side stage, and then an Illegal Pete's sponsored Colorado music stage. All proceeds from Tour de Fat Denver benefit Bike Denver and the Denver Cruisers, thanks to Molly North, director of Bike Denver, who works with New Belgium as an advocate for local biking non-profits.
Tour de Fat rehearsal in the National Western Complex