By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
The smells from some of Denver’s most beloved restaurants, music from instantly recognizable bands and a variety of activities that will put a smile on any kid’s face can only mean one thing — A Taste of Colorado is firing into action this weekend.
The annual celebration is entering its 26th year in Denver. This year’s festivities will feature over 50 of Coloradans’ favorite restaurants offering different sized portions that only have one thing in common — the food is guaranteed to light up some taste buds.
“I think it’s a great showcase of many of the offerings that we have in the Denver area,” said Sarah Neumann, spokeswoman for the Downtown Denver Partnership, which is putting on the event. “I think that having them all in one location at the same time is a lot of fun for people because they can browse through the different offerings, learn about the restaurants and talk to folks who work there. That’s a real asset.”
A Taste of Colorado also has a fine dining area that features higher-end restaurants and a culinary showcase. A couple of celebrity chefs — Hosea Rosenberg, season five winner of Top Chef, and Keegan Gerhard from The Food Network and D-Bar Desserts — will show attendees how to become a professional chef in their own kitchen.
While adults will likely be enthralled with the culinary offerings, kids can have an equally good time with the interactive activities. Clowns, magicians and educational options are free and available for the littler ones.
“We pride ourselves on being a very family-friendly affair,” said Neumann.
This year’s festival also features a great music lineup. Grand Funk Rail Road is playing on Friday, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and The Robert Cray Band are playing on Saturday, Poco and The Spinners are playing on Sunday and Love and Theft and Foghat are playing on Monday.
“From soul all the way to classic rock and beyond, we try to offer a variety of bands every year,” said Neumann. “I think we succeeded with that this year.”
The Downtown Denver Partnership held the inaugural A Taste of Colorado on the 16th Street Mall in 1984. The event was such a success that the organizers realized they needed to move it to a much larger space in the future.
Ever since then, Coloradans have been getting a taste of their own state in Civic Center Park over the holiday weekend.
Neumann attributed the festival’s longevity to its convenient location, there being no cover charge to get in and its consistently strong content, whether it be the food, activities or music.
The Downtown Denver Partnership hasn’t been resting on their laurels, though. They have reliably been tweaking the recipe by adding new features such as free supervised bicycle parking and an interactive map that is available this year on the event’s Web site under the FYI section.
“A lot of what the festival speaks to is the history and culture of this region,” said Neumann. “And we always want to give a reason a people to come back.”
A Taste of Colorado
Where: Civic Center Park
When: Through Monday
Cost: Admission is free