Riot Fest will not return to May Farms outside Byers this year after Arapahoe County Commissioners denied special-use permit applications from both the festival and the farm. The denial came just two months before the music festival and carnival was set to bring Wu-Tang Clan, Slayer, Primus and more to the town forty miles east of Denver -- Riot Fest will go on with the same schedule at a new location: the parking lot outside Sports Authority Field in downtown Denver.
The two main factors that led to the decision were comments collected in a public hearing earlier this month and a traffic impact report commissioned by the County's Engineering Division. May Farms and Riot Fest proposed improvements in traffic flow and parking for this year, but the report suggests that more would be needed.
"While these changes will mitigate some of the queues accessing the event, it is likely that there will still be extensive queues unless vehicle arrival time is spaced out over several hours," the report concludes. It suggests additional changes to roads, signage and traffic redirection, among other things to help accommodate an estimated crowd of over 17,000 people, which is roughly 17 times the population of Byers.
In addition, May Farms asked the county for an extension of the agri-tainment use area of their farm. Part of the farm is zoned for agri-tainment, presumably the area that was used for Riot Fest last year. This year, the farm also applied for an extension of that zoning, north of I-70, for parking for the festival. That extension would require repairs to roads as well as a plan to get pedestrians from the parking north of I-70 across the interstate, the report found.
If the parking lots are expanded north of I-70, additional measures need to be implemented to provide safe pedestrian routes between the overflow parking and where the event is held south of I-70. Pedestrians should be physically prevented (i.e. fencing) from crossing I-70 or from walking along Bradbury Road due to the lack of pedestrian facilities available. If shoulder improvements are made along Bradbury Road, channelizing devices should be provided during event to allow pedestrians to utilize the shoulder area.
We have reached out to Arapahoe County to get a clearer sense of how this report factored into the decision to deny both the permit and the zoning extension, and will update when we hear back. Meanwhile, you can read the full report below.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.