If you live in Fort Collins, the changes are that you’ve heard of NewWestFest, one of the biggest festivals this hip Colorado town puts on. It’s a three day festival full of food, tunes, beer, rides, and all around merriment. Headliners hit the main stage at 8:30 each night and daytime sported kids activities, tasty local food trucks, Colorado based crafts, and non-stop music on four different stages. I hit the festival for one of the days, but the town was buzzing with the happenings in Old Town, the location of the festival.
A four block-by-four block section of Fort Collins’ infamous Old Town is blocked off and turned into this haven for music lovers, foodies, and families alike. This year, the weather was particularly clear and sunny at a high of seventy. Parking was a bit of a challenge as it always is with such events, but the lovely weather made the walk to the festival another enjoyable aspect, not to mention the vast cast of characters who partake in the festivities.
Depending on where you enter you’ll encounter different activities. My group of fellow adventurers and I came upon the rides and games first where gaggles of families with small children and dogs roamed, snacked, and took turns on dizzying rides. Festival bucks are use for buying power:
One of the stalls we check out was run by a pair of ecologically savvy entrepreneurs vending Thai inspired salsa. Their business is called “Yai’s Thai” and uses ingredients from around Denver to create their spicy delights.
The bravest of our party took home the spiciest salsa they had, which took some time to hit the tongue after the first bite. First the tomatoes and ginger settled on the tip of the tongue before the strong onion and garlic taste gave way to the power of the black pepper and Thai chilis. Check out their website to see more of their great salsa.
(Warning: Although this salsa is fantastic, it comes in a glass jar, and glass isn’t allowed on the grounds near the main stage area on Mountain. Put it in your car before heading towards the music!)
The next vendor I had the pleasure of meeting was Felipe Barrientos of Mistura Timepieces. These watches are hand crafted from sustainable materials gathered from Barrientos’ home, Colombia. He truly enjoyed talking about his work and the time he spends crafting. Take a look at some of the stunning designs:
Next door to the fabulous watches was the Your Daily Fiber booth where Elaine Sipes was in the midst of weaving and her beautiful garments hung all around her. I work at a publishing company for yarn crafts and it was delightful to see a weaver at work. Your Daily Fiber is a local yarn company that creates from their herds of llamas, alpacas, yaks, and goats. Elaine was delightful and friendly, surely because she was weaving and creating.
After perusing many other booths, we headed towards the Mountain stage where a nine-piece funk band from Greeley, CO, The Burroughs, were jamming out. There was a lot of blues-y flavor to their sound and lead singer John Burroughshad a wicked set of pipes when he decided to avoid his screechy upper register. What the band did best was groove and that rested on the rhythm section: bass and drums. The strict security and fenced in audience space was unpleasantly crowded. Although the fencing and security provided desperately needed safety needs, standing in the audience felt like cramming into a sardine can. Entrance to the Mountain stage for Steve Miller was quickly barred because of the flood of people trying to cram into the fenced in area. It was much wiser to pick a spot in front of a screen where there was room to stretch one’s legs and not worry about beer spilling all over one’s person.
Around the same time that The Burroughs were jamming, Musketeer Gripweed was rocking the Linden Stage. They are a blues-fusion band from our very own Fort Collins that gets down a dirty with their improv and preaches tolerance, love, and taking care of each other and the planet we live on. In other words, modern day hippies with a penchant for high-energy blues. They engaged well with their audience and families dancing along with their catchy tunes.
My experience was just one day of the festival and it provided plenty of entertainment for each person’s personal tastes and fun-loving needs. NewWestFest faced a few challenges because of the construction around Old Town, but it still managed to keep the festival safe and as streamlined as a place with hundreds of people can be. Next year we will have a stage in the square again. I’m looking forward to it. Check out the new stage in progress:
Rock on, Fort Collins. Thanks for the fun.