A Feast of Fests

Two major holiday-weekend arts fests open today in downtown Denver, and while there could be some competition for crowds (and their wallets), organizers of both events insist that they’ll complement each other — and give viewers a bigger, bolder taste of (mostly) contemporary Colorado art. The Downtown Denver Arts Festival kickoff will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at its original home at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and ArtStir will debut at the same time at the Denver Pavilions. Sandwiched between the two festivals is the Denver Day of Rock, which will bring a blast of free music to stages up and down the 16th Street Mall from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

While a last-minute relocation to the Denver Performing Arts Complex forced him to pare back the entertainment component this year, the DDAF’s Jim DeLutes says that he’s already forging partnerships with fellow DPAC tenants such as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Opera Colorado for next year. And the move hasn’t hurt artist participation or quality at all, he notes: “We’ll have 140 artists, including 45 who have never been in the show before and 92 from Colorado. Those who shop the festival faithfully, year after year, will still see many of their favorites.”

This is the inaugural year for ArtStir, which occupies the space that was previously home to the DDAF. “We feel the Downtown Denver Arts Festival is not a competitor, but rather an asset,” says Pavilions spokeswoman Wendy Manning. “A high tide raises all boats. Therefore, more activities and festivals equate to more people coming downtown for Memorial Day weekend. This moves the needle for art vendors, restaurants and retail sales in the area.” ArtStir’s roster is 100 percent Colorado, she points out; the Pavilions will also host a Denver Day of Rock “locals only” stage on Saturday.

Both festivals are free; the DDAF continues through Sunday, and ArtStir runs four days, concluding on Memorial Day. For information, visit downtowndenverartsfestival.com and artstirdenver.com.
May 24-27, 2013