There are annual events that have become so popular over the years that it can be difficult to imagine there was a time when they weren’t a key part of the year.
But back in 2001, when the first Colorado Dragon Boat Festival was hosted at Sloan’s Lake, there wasn’t any inkling that it would become the major event it is now.
“We weren’t expecting it to be as successful as it has,” said Sara Moore, executive director of Dragon 5280, the umbrella organization that encompasses the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the Colorado Dragon Film Festival, and the Emerging Leaders Program. “That first festival there was about 16,000 in attendance and now we are expecting more than 120,000 attendees.”
This year’s free festival is at Sloan’s Lake, Sheridan Boulevard and West 17th Avenue, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 29.
The event will feature two days of competitive dragon boat racing between about 37 teams of varying skill levels. In addition to the races, there will be five different stages with a variety of performances going on, a children’s area and performers from Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia and Denver’s sister city.
Gourmands will also want to check out the two food courts — the Taste of Asia court, with more than three dozen vendors representing 13 countries, and a marketplace for visitors to do their own shopping.
One of the main focuses of this year’s festival is sustainability, and as such, organizers are encouraging people to avoid driving to the area. There is a free shuttle to take attendees to and from the Auraria Campus so they don’t have to find parking around Sloan’s Lake. There is also the light rail that stops at the campus.
The festival is open for everyone, and not only is it a great time, but it’s a chance to learn more about a vital cultural force.
“When we first started the festival, it was because we wanted the general public to see the contributions of Asian Pacific American community,” Moore said.
“The festival is a great opportunity for our community to highlight what we bring to the state and country. It is a passport to Asia without leaving Denver.”
For more information on the festival, visit www.cdbf.org.
Feeling fit with other foodies in Westminster
Let’s be honest — most food festivals aren’t exactly healthy. There tends to be a lot of fried foods and more than a few sweets to throw off a diet. But there’s an event in Westminster that aims to offer a healthy alternative.
The Fit Foodie Festival and 5K/10K comes to Westminster City Park, 10455 N. Sheridan Blvd., from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 28.
The aim of the festival is to reward people for making healthy choices with food from local restaurants, beer and wine gardens, mini-workout classes, cooking demonstrations, and more.
Go to www.fitfoodierun.com to register for the race, which includes food along the course, finisher’s medal, tasting stations, gift bag and donation to No Kid Hungry.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Nas, Black Star and Pusha T at Red Rocks
As a genre, rap is entering the stage where some of its biggest stars are entering what could be considered “classic rock” status. For so many years the genre was all about the newest figures on the scene, and while that’s still a major factor, some of rap’s most recognizable voices are becoming the elder statesmen.
Taking on this role doesn’t mean these artists are out of relevant things to say, however. If you need proof of this, I recommend heading out to Red Rocks, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway in Morrison, at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31, to see Nas, Black Star (Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Talib Kweli), Pusha T, Brother Ali and Royce Da 5’9.
For my money, Pusha T has released the best rap album of the year in May with his third solo release, “Daytona,” and Black Star reuniting is something all rap fans should be excited about and makes a perfect addition to this bill.
Head over to www.redrocksonline.com/events/detail/nas-x-black-star.
Escape the present at Lone Tree Brewing
In many parts of the country, the1920s belonged to prohibition and gangsters who made their money trafficking under-the-counter hooch.
Lone Tree Brewing, 8200 Park Meadows Drive, No. 8222, is inviting patrons to head back to this era through a partnership with Clue Room, a live escape room company, at its Bootlegger’s Breakout escape room. The brewery will host the escape room on Wednesdays through Aug. 29. There are half-hour sessions at 5, 5:45, 6:30 and 7:15 p.m.
In the 30-minute escape room, teams will try to defeat Chicago’s own Al Capone.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/theclueroom.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.