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New Denver-area grocer offers the best of both worlds with warehouse/supermarket hybrid

Part warehouse grocery, part conventional supermarket. That’s what customers will experience at SmartCo Foods, a new chain that opened the first of its five Denver-area stores Tuesday.

SmartCo is pitching an all-things-to-all-shoppers approach that analysts say could prove popular — if the chain can establish its identity in Colorado’s competitive grocery industry.

Parent company Smart & Final of City of Commerce, Calif., acquired five metro-Denver sites formerly occupied by Albertsons. In addition to the newly opened store at 1442 S. Parker Road, outlets in Denver, Centennial, Littleton and Longmont will launch in July and August.

Each store will employ about 110 part- and full-time workers. Store officials said they’ve received more than 4,000 job applications.

Smart & Final has built a reputation in California and other Western states primarily as a warehouse discounter that caters to food-service customers who buy in bulk. SmartCo stores will add a conventional supermarket element with regular-size items, fresh produce, bakeries, meat departments and delis.

Shoppers can buy a 12-ounce package of Kraft American cheese singles for

Weekly Event Round-up: Cherry Blossom Festival, German Heritage Festival and More!

Saturday-Sunday. Dance to the beat of your own taiko drum at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Held on downtown’s Sakura Square, the fest celebrates Japanese-American culture in Denver with food, demonstrations and live performances. The main stage on Lawrence Street features drummers, dancers and martial arts, while a smaller stage is set for all kinds of demos: Learn how to use furoshiki cloths, wrap yourself in a kimono properly, do origami or make Spam musubi. Inside the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple, quieter classes take place, like ikebana (flower arranging) and bonsai plant-growing. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Sakura Square, between Larimer and Lawrence and 19th and 20th Streets. Admission is free.

Friday-Sunday. Do a good turn for the environment when Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids presents two “eco-matinees.” Two of the RMTK’s troupes are encouraging patrons to ride bikes or use public transportation to attend Friday’s 11 a.m. performance. In addition, $5 of each ticket sale will go to the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. All you have to do is choose which show to see: “Bye Bye Birdie” in Boulder or “The Wizard of Oz” in Denver. Both shows have additional performances over the weekend, too. “Bye Bye Birdie”: 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The Magic Playhouse, 5311 Western Ave., Boulder; 303-245-8150. Tickets are $9-$12. “The Wizard of Oz”: 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Kenneth King Performing Arts Center, 855 Lawrence Way, Denver; 303-556-2180. Tickets are $10-$12. Learn more at theaterforkids.net.

Friday-Sunday. The hills are alive with the sound of roaring engines at the 88th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. On Friday, race aficionados can pre-party at Fan Fest in downtown Colorado Springs. Fan Fest features live music, a chili cookoff and a beer garden, plus race vehicles on display and autograph sessions with drivers. Sunday is the big race: Show up early (the road closes at 8 a.m.) to claim a spot and watch as all kinds of vehicles zoom up the mountain. Fan Fest: 5-10 p.m. Friday. Downtown Colorado Springs, Tejon Street between Colorado Avenue and Bijou Street. Race: 9 a.m. Sunday. Pikes Peak Highway. Advance tickets are $40 per person age 10 and older; race-day tickets are $45. Buy tickets at ticketswest.com or call 866-464-2626. Learn more at ppihc.com.

Friday. Space travel. Travel through space and time with “Journey to the Stars,” the latest planetarium show at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, “Journey” explores the life cycle of stars, from their earliest formation to death. Using digital imagery and real pictures from telescopes, the show lets viewers see stars up close – including a good look at Earth’s biggest neighboring star, the sun. Shows run hourly from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd.; 303-370-6000. Planetarium tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, and include admission to the museum. Museum members receive a discount. For more information visit dmns.org.

Saturday-Sunday. Hoist a stein with the Colorado Railroad Museum at their German Heritage Festival. The fest features rides on a real steam train, German food, collectibles, live entertainment and more. Kids can make crafts and play games, and grownups can sample “Colorado Railway Station 10,” a beer brewed especially for the Museum by their neighbors at MillerCoors. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Colorado Railroad Museum, 17155 W. 44th Ave., Golden; 800-365-6263. Admission is $20 for adults and $5 for children. Buy tickets and learn more at crrm.org.

-Kathleen St. John

Enter Your Child in 850 KOA’s Baby Contest

Got Colorado’s cutest baby?

Enter your little darling in Newsradio 850 KOA’s Cutest Baby Contest. Send in your photos of your baby (under 2 years of age) for the chance to win the complete parenting package including an HD Flip video camera, a 32” LCD Television and a $250 spa experience.

The deadline to submit photos is this Friday, June 25th, after which listeners will be able to vote for their cutest baby!

Be sure to go here to enter.

A Colorado Mom’s Connection to the Food Revolution

If you tuned into Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC this spring, you may have gotten an unfortunate glimpse of my hometown. Huntington, WV was listed by the CDC as the unhealthiest town in the country and Jamie Oliver selected the town as the place to begin his Food Revolution in the United States. His goal was to introduce healthier eating habits into an area of the country that desperately needed to change its eating habits. Huntington residents have many typical American eating habits that contribute to obesity, heart disease and diabetes, such as high calorie, high sugar, and high saturated fat diets.

(stock photo by sykospike)

One of the most horrifying parts of the show, in my opinion, was the state of the school lunches. I grew up in Huntington, and I don’t remember the school lunches looking anything what they’ve become. I remember fruit and salad regularly being part of the menu. Pizza was a rare treat. However, budget cuts and an overwhelmed infrastructure have resulted in a lunch and breakfast program that is hardly ideal. Children were gleefully consuming foods that would horrify many parents. They were eating pizza for breakfast and lunch, overly processed meats, French fries, and very little fresh fruits and vegetables. Their drinks were overly sugared, flavored milks.

The scary part is that the school lunches in West Virginia aren’t an anomaly. Those lunches meet current USDA standards for school lunches. As Jamie Oliver and others have pointed out, the nationwide school lunch system is broken and our kids aren’t getting the nutrition they need. According to

My favorite guitar hero

You are the Music Makers. You are the Dreamers of Dreams.

~Dog House Music’s motto

Before Ryley’s week at Dog House Music’s Rock & Roll Camp for Teens began, I can’t say he was much of a music maker. Dreamer? Of course. Most kids are experts at dreaming big dreams.

He is the proud owner of an electric guitar. It was a much-wanted eleventh birthday present, but he wasn’t sure what to do with any of the six strings. He could improvise and pretend to rock out like any kid in Generation Guitar Hero, but he lacked direction and education from someone other than my husband or myself. My music training is limited to 4 years of public school-based violin lessons. My husband had more years of musical training, but not with guitar.

Dorky mama with her memories of pizzicato do not a rocker make. I can make dreams of spaghetti for dinner come true, but that’s about as far as my abilities go. If Eddie Van Halen had me for a mom, he’d be bagging groceries right now.

Ryley was recently offered the chance to learn guitar skills, song writing, and the business side of being in a band. We were excited to turn him loose and see what he could do. He would be taught by professional working musicians in an actual music studio.

Dog House Music, located in Lafayette, is one of the premiere music studios on the Front Range. They have 17 rehearsal studios that are home to local, national, and international musicians and bands. Dog House Music provides live and digital recording services, as well. One of the coolest things they offer are

Your Opinion: Has the Colorado Rockies Breastfeeding Mom Controversy Been Under or Overplayed?

Last week, I received an email about local moms staging a “Nurse In” as a protest to the Colorado Rockies’ response to a nursing mom.

And I have to admit I almost hit the “delete” button.

It’s not that I don’t believe in breastfeeding in public because I do. Nor am I one to usher women’s rights under the table, which is what the woman promoting this Nurse In claimed it was all about.

It just seemed like such an extreme response to something I thought had already been smoothed over. But upon further investigation, I discovered it was a lot more complicated than that.

A bit of background: Colorado Springs mom Sandra Snow was seated in the nosebleed section at a Rockies game. Her baby needed to eat so she moved back to a closed-off section to nurse her. Sandra was allegedly being discreet by covering up when a Rockies usher told her she was not allowed to nurse her baby there.

A supervisor later came over and told Sandra because of the many cameras and “perverts taking pictures” it would have been more appropriate to feed the baby in the family restroom, which, it turns out, is nothing more than a toilet.

If I was Sandra, would I have been ticked? You betcha.

But do I think this has been a wee bit blown out of proportion? You betcha.

Sandra was somewhere where she

Win concert tickets to teen sensations The Wonder Girls!

We have big news that is sending local tweens and teens in a frenzy: the Wonder Girls are coming to Denver on July 6th!

The Wonder Girls, five female teenage sensations hailing from the east as music royalty, are finally making their highly anticipated new single “2 Different Tears.” This is the Wonder Girls’ first U.S. headlining tour and they previously toured with the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber.

The U.S. audience got a sneak preview of the Wonder Girls in 2008 when Perez Hilton featured not one, but two of their hit music videos on his blog site. Perez Hilton says, “So fab…we loves it!” The Wonder Girls were also featured on Virgin Media as one of the top 8 girls groups to watch in the world, along with the Pussycat Dolls, Girls Aloud and Danity Kane.

Mile High Mamas is offering two tickets to the Wonder Girls concert on July 6. Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is July 2, 2010.

Movie review: “Toy Story 3” gets 3 stars in 3D

Consider the oft-amusing, terribly clever G-rated sequel “Toy Story 3” as the brightest student in the class delivering a very fine B paper.

Any other year, the fact that animation powerhouse Pixar’s grand summer offering is a sequel — and a 3D one at that — wouldn’t rankle quite so much. But summer 2010 is turning out to be Hollywood’s season of shame, in which no studio saw it worth its while to dream afresh.

“Expect the Expected,” might be the tagline. “In 3D!”

So Pixar, the outfit that so often does story with brio, has gone for the pleasantly familiar over its customary astonishing. That Pixar’s geniuses are as good as they are means that “Toy Story 3,” featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack, among others, is still likely to work its magic on young ‘uns — and those adults nostalgic for the amiable company of Woody, Buzz, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, Hamm and Rex.

For the rest of us already tuckered out by the march of the familiar, it serves — as enjoyable as it is — as a cautionary reminder that even the most gifted filmmakers won’t always make incandescent films. The second sequel proves that clever is not the same thing as inventive. That something can entertain without being even a smidge original. Last summer’s “Up” — a bright, true, melancholy affair — is a

A shout-out to dads

Happy Father’s Day to all those Mile High Papas out there!

Love,

The Mamas

Win Tickets to the 4th of July Fireworks at Invesco Field at Mile High!

Want your 4th of July to go off with a bang?

Mile High Mamas is giving away 2 sets of 4 tickets to see the fireworks at INVESCO Field at Mile High!

The fireworks and multi-media display will be best experienced from inside INVESCO Field, as the high-impact fireworks show is set to ignite close to 10,000 rounds.

The Outlaws set the professional lacrosse attendance record at last year’s July 4th game, with over 23,000 fans. Tickets in the lower seating bowl are still available and start at just fifteen dollars. Check out DenverOutlaws.com or call 303-OUTLAWS to purchase.

To win 1 of the sets of four tickets, please go here to enter. Contest deadline is July 1, 2010 at noon.