Consider August the golden hour: July's heat is gone, but fall isn't quite here yet, making this month the ideal time to get out and about. Celebrate Denver's Mexican heritage and food at Westword's second-annual Tacolandia, or kick off the High Plains Comedy Festival at a preview show. Give a nod to the Mile High City's artists at Archives for Artists or celebrate the life of beloved Boulder poet Jack Collom. It's all in this week's 21 best events in Denver.
Tuesday, August 15
Drug users too often live under a shadow, far from social services and medical help. That’s partially why Colorado lost 912 people to overdoses in 2016 alone. The advocates who successfully pushed the state to legalize syringe-exchange programs and who train Denver residents on how to administer the life-saving drug Naloxone are taking the fight for harm reduction to the next level, pushing to legalize supervised injection sites, or places where people can use drugs under the care of medical professionals. The Harm Reduction Action Center and the Drug Policy Alliance are teaming up for a Supervised Injection Community Forum, which will include a screening of The Caring Community: Ithaca and the Movement for Supervised Injection Facilities and a conversation — Sexy Pizza provided — on supervised injection sites. The evening runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 15, at the Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway. For more information, call the Harm Reduction Action Center at 303-572-7800 or visit the event’s Facebook page.
Although the High Plains Comedy Festival doesn’t stage its Baker takeover until the final weekend of August, a handful of visiting festival comics are arriving in Denver early and popping up in local showcases around town. On Wednesday, August 16, at 8 p.m., the Laugh Night on Earth, a free monthly showcase at the Sloan’s Lake Alamo Drafthouse’s BarFly, 4255 West Colfax Avenue, is serving as an official High Plains preview show, with a lineup full of festival performers including Georgia Rae, Matt Monroe, headliner Shane Torres and MC Zac Maas. With custom cocktails and a rotating roster of 32 Colorado brews on tap, Barfly is an ideal space for unwinding with a drink after a movie or, more important, catching a free comedy show. Visit the event’s Facebook page to learn more.
The Boulder International Fringe Festival is like the farmers’ market of eclectic performance art: Starting with an “All You Can Artist” festival-preview buffet on Wednesday, August 16, you can pick and choose which of twenty local and visiting acts to see at eleven different venues between the 16th and the 27th, and maybe even work in a Flatirons hike. This year’s lineup includes a politically charged burlesque show (fittingly, it’s called Pussy Grabs Back); a genderqueer cabaret; an audience-engaging, genre-spanning dance piece; and a solo performance about Baba Yaga that incorporates shadow puppets. Tickets for individual performances range from $5 to $15, and Fringe also offers a five-punch card ($50) and whole-festival pass ($190); find them and a full festival schedule at boulderfringe.com, or purchase tickets in person between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. through August 26 at Trident Booksellers & Cafe, 940 Pearl Street in Boulder. Tickets are also available at venues thirty minutes prior to the first show of the day.
Thursday, August 17
This is not your grandmother’s polite summer excursion: The Dead Beat Walking Tour leaves Union Station at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 17, for a trip through some of Denver’s most colorful history. During the one-mile trek, you’ll follow in the footsteps of such bad boys as Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac, and learn how the Beat poets influenced both Ken Kesey’s Magic Bus trips and the shape of the modern Mile High City. “I wanted to create something that pays homage to what makes Denver unique,” says Summer Waters, guide and owner of Colorado Walking Tours, who’s offering this inaugural trip for just $15. The tour will include a stop at My Brother’s Bar, Denver’s oldest watering hole, and will end at Carbon Cafe, just steps away at 1553 Platte Street. For more information, go to coloradowalkingtours.com.
If you have to go grocery shopping, you might as well do it at a Natural Grocers location. Because on Thursday, August 17, the chain is celebrating its 62nd year in business, and is offering free ice cream sundaes (dairy and non-dairy, of course) and root beer floats at all its locations from 4 to 6 p.m. They say you shouldn't shop for food on an empty stomach, right? Find the store closest to you at naturalgrocers.com.
Raise a glass while chowing down at the eleventh annual Corks & Forks on Thursday, August 17. From 6 to 9 p.m., you can enjoy a selection of fine wines and sample dishes prepared by chefs from such favorite foodie haunts as Tamayo, Stoic & Genuine and Angelo’s Taverna, to name but a few of the establishments vying for the prestigious Golden Fork and Golden Cork Awards. Between bites, you can bid on an array of shopping treasures at a silent auction, boogie to live music, or simply take in the majestic city views that surround the rooftop terrace of DaVita World Headquarters, 2000 16th Street. Corks & Forks is not only about good food, though: A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to the National Sports Center for the Disabled. Visit nscd.org to learn more and buy tickets, $75.
Denver is a favorite guinea pig for Broadway-bound Disney musicals. Starting Thursday, August 17, you can get a sneak peek at the latest, Frozen, which opens here for a seven-week test run before heading to the Great White Way. And what’s not to love? Frozen is all about sisterhood and women standing up for one another; the music includes the little ditty “Let It Go,” an Academy Award-winning song that’s mega-inspirational to all, no matter your age or gender. The show goes on through October 1 at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; tickets, which are selling out quickly, start at $25. Reserve your seats at denvercenter.org or call 303-893-4100.
Patrick Mueller of Control Group Productions likes to stage dance performances in alternative spaces and states of mind. He’s taken audiences on bus tours and danced around them in the dark, treated them to full-immersion party productions and unveiled new works in untried, bare-bones venues. For his newest venture, Neverhome, Mueller and troupe will lead folks on walking tours powered by a migration theme, telling a transitory tale of displacement through movement, poetry, music and visuals. For a suburban/rural experience, join the crew on Friday, August 18, or Saturday, August 19, at the Broomfield Depot Museum, 2201 West Tenth Avenue in Broomfield, or opt for an urban journey leaving from MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, on August 24 and 25, or September 1, 2 and 3. Tours set off from both locations at 5:30, 6:15 and 7:30 p.m., and admission is $8 to $12 in Broomfield and $10 to $15 in Denver. Purchase tickets to either spot at brownpapertickets.com, and learn more at controlgroupproductions.org.
Conquer a fourteener while supporting the efforts of Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain at the third annual Charity Ascent of Mount Bierstadt on Friday, August 18; you can help raise funds while heading high into Pike National Forest. Gather with other hikers at the trailhead on Guanella Pass at 7 a.m., then join them again at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 23, for a lively after-party on the rooftop of Enterprise Coworking, 3000 Lawrence Street. The fee is $100 per individual, or $500 for sponsored teams of four; non-hikers pay $50 for a T-shirt and admission to the party. Visit jacolorado.org to learn more, buy tickets or donate.
eventbrite.com; for more information about Arthyve’s goals, visit arthyve.org.
Saturday, August 19
Good improv takes planning. To help ensure that the Denver Improv Festival goes on as scheduled in October, the GroupMind Foundation is throwing ImProm, a soirée where you can rewrite your own prom-night denouement — or not, if the original was truly unforgettable. Don your tuxes and sparkly dresses for a rerun for the ages, complete with dancing, games and a cash bar in addition to the surprise endings. The balloons will rise over ImProm from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, August 19, at Massif Studios, 2191 South Broadway; for tickets, $15, go to eventbrite.com.
Join more than 7,000 supporters at the Rocky Mountain Region’s largest and most successful benefit for people living with HIV or AIDS. For thirty years, AIDS Walk Colorado has raised money for costly yet life-saving medical treatment for clients of the Colorado AIDS Project, as well as funds for dozens of other vital services. But the walk is just part of what’s happening on Saturday, August 19, a day of remembrance and service. Head to Cheesman Park at 10 am. for a Celebration of Life Festival, which includes sporting tournaments, live music, refreshments and, of course, the main event. Go to aidswalkcolorado.org for details.
While liberals have developed an (arguably unfair) reputation for strident humorlessness, almost every standup knows that some of the best comedy comes from punching at the powerful. And in the current political climate, satire has evolved from an effective critique to a vital coping mechanism. Luckily, John Fugelsang and Stephanie Miller, along with Francis Callier and Angela V. Shelton (who come together to form FRANGELA), are bringing the Sexy Liberal Resistance Tour back to Denver at 8 p.m. Saturday, August 19, to help liven up an increasingly dark international outlook. Join the telegenic performers at the University of Denver’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue; tickets run $70 to $90 at sexyliberal.com.
Westword’s second Tacolandia will bring more than forty restaurants, taquerias and food trucks to Civic Center Park on Sunday, August 20, for one glorious afternoon of Mexican culture and tacos — from the tastiest traditional street-style eats to more modern creations. A $35 general admission ticket gets you unlimited tacos from 4 to 7 p.m. from the likes of Garibaldi’s Mexican Bistro, Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Panaderia y Taqueria Contreras, Tortas ATM, Los Chingones and many more, along with entertainment and a cash bar. Or go VIP for $75, which includes early admission at 3 p.m., two drink tickets and access to a VIP lounge with a special spread overseen by Jamey Fader, chef/founder of Lola Coastal Mexican. Find out more and grab your tickets at westwordtacolandia.com.
For nearly forty years, the Colorado Mycological Society’s annual Wild Mushroom Fair has celebrated the joys of fungi; it will pop up again from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 20, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street. Marvel at a massive display of wild mushrooms of varying shapes, colors and sizes while learning how to identify certain species from on-site experts. You can also find out how to cultivate and cook mushrooms, even how to photograph them in a natural setting. Young fungi fans will have their own “kiddy korner.” The fair is included with standard DBG admission fees of $12.50 for adults and $9 for students and children. Go to botanicgardens.org for tickets, and learn more about the fair at cmsweb.org.
In the age of the Internet, old music is new again, for fans of all ages. Jimi Bernath, host and organizer of the annual Summer of Love Sing-along, hopes that everyone will join in the love, whether or not they’re old enough to be nostalgic for a different time or are genuine Beatlemaniacs. The sing-along typically includes lyrics sheets and the chance to sing your heart out, in or out of tune. As a bonus on this fiftieth anniversary, all the music from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will be included in the mix of hits from 1967. It all goes down on Sunday, August 20, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Admission is free (as love should be); visit the Facebook event page for details.
Facebook event page, and go to jackkerouacschool.org/events for info on additional Collom memorial events in Boulder.
The word “edible” might seem redundant in the name of a food festival, but not at one designed for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance who’ve had to suffer through years of flavorless and unpalatable substitutes for baked goods and other wheat-, barley- and rye-based products. The Incredible, Edible Gluten-Free Food Fair will bring an array of delicious gluten-free products to Denver Mart, 451 East 58th Avenue, on Sunday, August 20. Come by between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for samples, kids’ activities, a silent auction and plenty of educational materials on living a healthy, gluten-free life. The event is free for members of the Celiac Support Association and their families, and just $10 per household for non-members; tickets are available at denverceliacs.org, along with a list of participating vendors and sponsors.
Monday, August 21
Party like it’s 1919 at Lee Spirits’ Pre-Prohibition Cocktail Competition, which starts stirring at 7 p.m. Monday, August 21, at Nocturne, 1330 27th Street. Enjoy classics from the dawn of cocktail culture, before the Volstead Act drove the industry underground, while you watch some of Colorado’s best bartenders compete to re-create and sometimes reimagine classic cocktails from the era. You’ll get to vote for your favorites while noshing on small-plate cuisine and enjoying a live performance by La Pompe Jazz. Half of the admission proceeds will be donated to No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America; get your tickets, $15 to $20, at eventbrite.com.