Summerfest almost 360 degrees from its start

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .


When Summerfest relocated from Heritage Grove to Buchanan Park a few years ago, many were saddened to see the shift from the familiar, intimate setting. But being able to spread out on the ball fields has enabled the festival to become bigger and better.

This was the 38th annual Summerfest – started in 1979 just a stone’s throw from where it is now, the 11 acres that initiated the creation of the larger Buchanan Park. “Sterling Nelson headed up entertainment, and we had some Denver jazz names on a tiny makeshift stage that first year,” recalls Jenise Harper, organizer of that first event. “After the first year Sheila Clarke led the drive to rescue Heritage Grove (next to Hiwan Homestead) from development, and Summerfest was relocated to the grove the second year.”

Reportedly 122 artists participated with booths and that more than 6,000 people attended. “With fence climbers, volunteers, bands, palette personnel, brewery folks etc. I’m sure it is closer to 6,700!” said one of the board members for Center for the Arts Evergreen, the group that organizes and benefits from the event.

The Palette of Brews – added after the switch took place – brought in local breweries as well as the sale of wine and margaritas by the glass. Fifteen breweries and beverage businesses participated in 2017.  CAE board member Cliff Bowron was largely responsible for that this year, and Jim Sherwood booked a long list of entertainment: Five and Dime; Mumblin’ Cousins with special guest Jimy Murphy; Moonjulz bellydance; Jeff King with Lisa Delia (and Johnny T); Second Chance; Open Space with Joe Bye; Whistlebink; One Little World; Bruce Cole; and The Wayfaring Musicians.

The choice of food was notable too, with 9 food trucks.

CAE provides a free dinner to artists with booths, and about 100 people take advantage of the offer. According to Kay Crook, who does her part organizing that aspect of Summerfest, Tuscany Tavern is a generous sponsor, donating all the food as they have for the past nine years.

Mary Steinbrecher and staff member Stephanie O'Malley co-chaired the two-day festival.  For the ninth year, Peggy Eggers coordinated volunteers – 150 of them this year!