When New York yoga teacher Jeannene Orofino moved to Denver and made Stapleton her home six years ago, the mother of two was attracted to the neighborhood's health- and wellness-oriented culture. As she began settling in, however, she started wondering why Founders Green Park, the sprawling public space near her home where farmers' markets and other events took place, didn't host an outdoor yoga festival.
Seeing an opportunity to bring Stapleton families closer together through fitness, Orofino enlisted local yoga teachers Dee Watts and Lora McKelvey to bring a Denver yoga and fitness festival to life.
Watts and McKelvey each have children of their own; they were determined to create a festival that was kid-friendly but still appealed to adults and people from all walks of life. The organizers wanted to spotlight local music, yoga teachers and craft artisans, and also to keep prices low.
“Our goal was to just make a local festival that was affordable, because a lot of people can’t afford the other festivals with big-name teachers that they fly in,” Orofino remembers.
The first StapletOM festival took place in 2014, and now, three years later, the StapletOM Yoga, Movement and Music festival has transformed into a popular two-day event that will run from September 15 to September 16 this year.
The event will offer all-day fitness classes, and attendees can enjoy the fare from local food trucks, along with live music, craft beer and wine. There will also be a vendor village where local businesses and artisans will sell clothes, handmade crafts and other goods. It’s important to Orofino that all of StapletOM’s partners and vendors are from the area, as this helps maintain the festival’s community-driven atmosphere.
“We have great local sponsors and businesses throughout Stapleton and beyond," says Orofino. "That’s what our vision has always been, and it’s worked.”
Musicians also set the tone for the festival, with performances in the evening on Friday and all day Saturday. The musical lineup includes a West African percussion set, guitar music by Rob Drabkin, and upbeat, hopeful tunes from Zanib, a Nubian musician who combines ukulele, violin and vocals.
If attending a daylong yoga festival seems like one too many downward dogs, Orofino stresses that there’s something for everyone. “We try to mix it up with all different styles so that you’re not just doing yoga all day,” she says.
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Beyond traditional, acro, aerial and dance yoga, attendees will have the chance to try barre, slacklining and Pound – a cardio and conditioning dance class using lightweight drumsticks. Those trying to relax can opt for a healing circle or a class in yoga nidra, a meditative practice that promotes sleep.
Having a variety of classes and skill levels keeps things interesting for seasoned yogis, but it also makes StapletOM a great place for beginners. Rather than a roomful of chiseled, glistening experts in lotus (which can intimidate even well-practiced yogis), attendees will find "a big social party, so people feel more comfortable to try," Orofino notes. "And who cares if they don’t know what they’re doing? It’s all levels, and we want to accept everybody.”
StapletOM, Friday, September 15, and Saturday, September 16, Founders Green Park, Roslyn Street and 29th Avenue. Passes for two-days of unlimited yoga classes are $45; single-day tickets cost $20 on Friday and $30 on Saturday. The festival itself is free, as are kids' yoga and karate classes. To learn more and buy tickets, visit the StapletOM website.