Arts and Culture

The 2015 Denver County Fair Retires Controversial Pot Pavilion — Gone to the Cats Instead

The Denver County Fair made international news last year with the introduction of its pot pavilion, surely a first anywhere in the world. But the thrill is gone, and that party's over. Fair organizers today announced that the timely experiment won't be back at this year's fifth annual three-day event at the National Western Complex. Instead, they'll be throwing themselves into the fair's next big thing – the Kitten Pavilion, a huge new undertaking banking on the power of Internet memes and the addictive quality of feline fandom.

"We're so excited to be launching this great cat-centered area of the fair and start setting another trend," says fair co-owner and creative director Tracy Weil. "The Pot Pavilion was perfect for 2014, to acknowledge the first year of legal recreational marijuana in Denver. By now, it's gotten pretty old-hat here, though – there's an overload of cannabis events around town. So we decided to retire the Pot Pavilion and do something no one else was doing here, with the first Kitten Pavilion. Denver is definitely a cat-loving city!"

The idea of the pot pavilion also wore thin on fair organizers in the days and weeks after the event when several people reported that they were sickened after having eaten candy bars provided by one of the vendors; there wasn't supposed to be any actual cannabis on the premises. A related lawsuit was eventually filed related to that situation

When the cat pavilion opens on July 31, it will feature appearances by sweetheart meme cat Lil BUB (those opting for the $50 VIP meet-and-greet will have the extra perk of being able to pet, kiss and have a photo taken with the Internet heroine), a two-day sanctioned cat show hosted by the International Cat Association and the Yellow Rose Cat Club, blue-ribbon kitty contests, adoptable pets, cat-centric vendors and more.

"We're going to out-cat CatCon," Denver County Fair director and co-owner Dana Cain promises. "It was great, but folks wanted to see more cats.” The CatCon, which debuted earlier this year in Los Angeles, was mysteriously devoid of actual cats on the premises, she notes.

Bring on the cats! Visit the Kitten Pavilion at the Denver County Fair July 31 through August 2 at the National Western Complex. Tickets, $10 for adults and $5 for kids, seniors and military ( children under age 5 admitted free) are now on sale; purchase yours in advance and get more information at the Denver County Fair website. 


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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd