The Piggies play a previous Bohemian Nights
The Piggies play a previous Bohemian Nights
Flickr user Bohemian Foundation. It runs in conjunction with New West Fest, a city-run street fair featuring hundreds of vendors, carnival rides, and food and drink stands. This year's Bohemian Nights headliners were Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo and WAR. This year it celebrated it's tenth anniversary, and I went, just as I have for every year for as long as I can remember.

See also: FoCoMX Proved Fort Collins's Potential As a Music Hub

I am a Fort Collins Native, born and raised a mile from old town, where the festival takes place. When I was younger, the weekend signified the last freedoms of summer, and we spent too much money on chocolate covered strawberries, perused the vendors for samples and got gaudy henna tattoos. This year, I caught up with friends who are home for the summer, listened to bands I have seen before many times and a few new to me, and experienced the city's busiest bar night of the year. Bohemian Nights can teach you plenty about Fort Collins, particularly its music scene. Here are some key takeaways:

9. Katie Herzig now resides in Nashville and has released eighteen successful records. She took the main stage Saturday evening. There was buzz over social media about the performer "coming home." Based on their ages, she must have attended Rocky Mountain High School around the same time as Derek Vincent Smith, also known as Pretty Lights.

8.The festival has an entire stage dedicated to children's music groups performances. There's also an area where children explore and play different instruments, build their own, and perform together.

7. Most summer nights there is free live music performances in the old town square, where most of the bars, restaurants and ice cream shops border. Sure, it's amazing sit on a pub patio and listen to hip-hop by Qbala and funk by The Burroughs, but it didn't feel new because Fort Collins is so immersed with music throughout the year. This weekend there were just more people out listening.

6. Even if there is a saturation of booze in the town, it is obvious city authorities care about your hydration. Most festivals sell water for $4 and there is limited or no communal watering hole. At this event, there were five community watering centers with eight water fountains at each.

A lab at New West Fest.
A lab at New West Fest.
Flickr user a store in the middle of town dedicated to your dogs needs, including daily-made dog treats shaped like bones. Dogs were allowed in concert areas (other than the main stage), vending areas and even the carnival area, and there was no shortage of people bringing then. On Sunday I went a few blocks away from the center of things to New Belgium brewery, and no fewer than six dogs were sitting patiently next to their owners inside the tasting room.

4. The old town area that the festival takes place at is not that large. It's about a mile squared. The organizers fit six stages, with non-crowded audience spaces -- one being a main stage to showcase mega-headliners and off-site live streaming monitors --hundreds of vendors, a full carnival, dance performance stage and kids play area.

3. What was better than watching Pat Benetar perform on stage? Watching her fans dance to her performing on stage. Her fans brought back the '80s fashion, in all the best ways. Two mid-sixties women next to me were flaunting bell-bottoms, and not just any bell-bottoms. These were homemade, created by attaching legs of bright patterned fabric to short denim cut-offs. They had matching bright belts and beaded earrings and were jiving with the energy I can just imagine from a Benetar show during their debut tour, 35 years ago.

2. In past years, recycling bins sat next to trash cans, with signs instructing which waste goes in which container. This year, the festival organizers hung signs that said "please place your trash on the ground." Of course, almost no one did. Instead, a few beer boxes were placed on the corners of the area and patrons placed their cans in it, or around it when it got full. The people around me could be overheard saying "it just feels wrong..." while walking twenty feet to the corner can pile.

1. We all know that Colorado pride is big in this state. But specific town pride may trump Colorado pride in Fort Collins. Shirts with the Horsetooth silhouette, New Belgium logos, and Fort Collins themed-CO flags were everywhere, and several vendors were selling even more of them -- along with Fort Collins socks, coasters, paintings, cozies, jewelry and more.

Fort Collins Music Fans Won't Throw Their Trash on the Ground Even if You Ask Nicely


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >