‘A tradition every year’

Parker Days finishes out 42nd celebration


Parker Days 2019 came and went June 6-9 bringing with it a weekend of fun as summer draws nearer.

Thousands turned out from across the Denver metro area to celebrate one of the first major fair and carnivals of the year. Attendees strolled hundreds of booths, including a flight simulator and Nerf Turf area for kids to blow off steam.

The community’s flagship summer event has grown every year and has drawn more and more people from outside the town to experience Parker life for a weekend. It’s one of Douglas County’s largest events, slightly trailing only the county fair in magnitude.

Dennis Houston, president and CEO of the Parker Area Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the event, said it has become an event for everyone.

“Parker Days is the best brochure we have for the Town of Parker and the people,” said Houston. “It gives the residents of Parker, it gives the people who maybe live in the city but grew up in a small town, a chance to hang out in a smaller community.”

What began as a smaller celebration at its beginning 42 years ago has turned into a four-day spectacle of carnival rides, funnel cakes and live music. For newcomers, it offers a slice of a small-town fair without having to stray too far from the city. Josh Krall, from Centennial, and his two kids showed up to head down to the kids’ carnival.

“We’ve lived here for three years,” Krall said, “and Parker Days has been a tradition every year.”

About 272,000 people attended last year’s event, Houston said. Numbers from the 2019 Parker Days were unavailable at press time, but the numbers have grown with each year.

This year, the chamber streamlined the ticket system and made all concerts free to keep with the spirit of a “come one, come all” event that, Houston said, is like a brochure for the town’s signature homey feel.

As part of this year’s “Do Good, Feel Good” theme, two stations allowed residents to get to know each other better and to express appreciation or compliment one another. On June 8, the event opened early to people with special needs to give them a chance to enjoy the rides without the anxiety of a massive crowd.

One of the new draws for this year’s event was a Nerf Turf area, where kids — or adults — could load up with foam Nerf darts and fire them out of plastic guns at each other in a dodgeball-type game. The typical carnival rides, street performers and miles of food trucks and booths provided something for everyone.

The two massive carnival set-ups, each one sandwiching Mainstreet on the north and south ends, boasted rides and games for kids and adults. In between the two carnivals, local business tents lined Mainstreet and local performers caught visitors’ ears as they walked by.

“People who come to Parker Days have been coming for a long time,” Houston said, “so we kind of need to keep it fresh and keep it new and offer exciting new things.”


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