Denver County Fair: This year, more food, freaks and techno geeks
If cheering on Denver were a county fair contest, Dana Cain would be a blue-ribbon contender.
Cain is the busy event planner and mainstay in the local contemporary art and vintage collectibles circles. It follows that her second installment of the Denver County Fair is an eclectic love letter to the city’s charms, characters and quirks, and ambitiously intends to top 2011′s four-day event, which organizers said drew roughly 25,000 attendees.
The second Denver County Fair is Friday through Aug. 12 at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St. Single-day tickets are $5-$10; a family four-pack is $25. All event details are outlined at denvercountyfair.org.
Responding in part to last year’s attendance surveys, this year’s fair is one day shorter but much more scheduled. Returning are such popular features as “Andrew Novick’s X-Treme Pancake Breakfast,” featuring more than 80 flapjack-topping delicacies and “who knows how many kinds of butter,” Novick said.
But, Cain added during a recent Denver County Fair launch luncheon — yes, deep-fried Twinkies were served — “We added a boatload of events this year… we’re really trying to represent Denver.”
That meant involving such kitschy local landmarks as Casa Bonita, adding more food and beer, and more Latino programming.
Denver County Fair Marketing Director Tracy Weil and newly minted Entertainment Director Andrew Novick joined Cain at the launch. Weil is is an accomplished artist known for growing and selling an array of heirloom tomatoes. Novick’s local reach goes back to the seminal late 1980s-early ’90s punk band Warlock Pinchers . But more recently this godfather of cool has been associated with offbeat sales and events that spotlight such interests of his as zombies, teddy bears and food art.
Although the deadline for some contest categories has passed, productive procrastinators still have ample opportunity to score a coveted blue ribbon by entering one of the event’s live competitions.
“One of the things that everybody just loved last year were the live competitions,” Cain said, “so this year there’s a ton more.”
They include pie eating, the Social Media Smackdown, Supper Hollerin’, and the High Rollers Adult Big Wheel Races.
Gone from last year’s inaugural Denver County Fair is a single marquee music event. “We took the money that we used to bring in (2011 headliner Devo) and funneled it into local talent,” Weil said.
This year’s varied music schedule includes appearances by Wheelchair Sports Camp, Fiction is Fun, Jimbo Darville & the Truckadours, the Mile High Banjo Society, and Total Ghost, among others. And the Tribute to Tribute Bands lineup includes The West (a three-piece with an Elvis Costello fixation); Journey Girls (a mother-daughter Journey tribute) and Jennifer’s Body (a Courtney Love/Hole tribute outfit). And then there’s Ukulele Loki’s Gadabout Orchestra.
Magic Cyclops — he of the 11,000 air guitars and “American Idol” fame — will not only perform, he’s also signed up to DJ Saturday’s Zombie Dance Party. Drag queen Nuclia Waste, last year’s Miss Denver County Fair, will MC this year’s pageant to hand down her crown. Even Dora the Explorer will turn up in the Kids Pavilion on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For national talent, look no further than the Freak Show, featuring hourly shows by “world-renowned sideshow performers” The Enigma, as seen on “The X-Files” and “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.”
Carnival rides will be in an indoor arena, and a food-truck roundup will keep revelers fueled.
Cain’s favorite new element this year is the Geek Pavilion, home to live Scrabble and other contests, robot battles, and an Unsinkable Molly Brown Dunk Tank hosted by the Colorado Steampunks and the Molly Brown House Museum (which not only approved of the idea, but helped fund the tank rental).
“This is a real techy, nerdy town,” Cain said of Denver, “and we are so proud of that.”
Elana Ashanti Jefferson