Chive Fest Could Set the Tone for Future Events in Denver Parks
Denver's City Park will host one of its first conventional music festivals this weekend. Chive Fest will bring two stages and eight artists, including Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Talib Kweli, to the city's largest park this Saturday, August 16. But the first-year festival hasn't been welcomed by everyone in Denver, and if certain neighborhood groups have their way, there won't be many more like it in the years to come.
Elyse Mitchell Chipotle has held Cultivate in City Park, but it differs from Chive Fest in that it didn't charge admission.
Previous festivals have tried and failed to use City Park. In 2008, concert promoter AEG wanted to host Mile High Music Festival there, but it backed out, in part because of objections from the Denver Zoo, which determined that the loud music would disrupt the animals.
At the time, the city had no official policy regarding major festivals and other admission-based events. After the debate surrounding Mile High Music Festival (and other similar events), a task force was convened to look into the matter, and in 2010, Denver Parks and Recreation approved a policy allowing admission-based events in seven of Denver's parks: Ruby Hill Park, Parkfield Park, Central Park in Stapleton, Skyline Park, Confluence Park, Civic Center Park and City Park. The policy sets an admission restriction at 7,500 for such events and establishes fees and special tax-collection rules.
City Park has hosted several large-scale events featuring live music in the interim, such as the Tour de Fat and Chipotle Cultivate, but neither charged admission, and proceeds from both events benefited nonprofits.
Those types of events -- with free entry and benefiting a nonprofit -- have been more common for several reasons: They're cheaper to host because the additional taxes and fees imposed on admission-based events do not apply; and the parks department offers a 50 percent discount on the regular permit fee for nonprofits. Perhaps more significant, attendance is not restricted; you can apply for a major event permit for more than 25,000 people if you like.
Admission-based events like Chive Fest have been much rarer. "Since that rule went into place and that permit became available, there have been a handful of admission-based events," says DPR spokesman Jeff Green. "It takes a promoter and a lot of work to go into it, which is probably why we don't have a lot of them outside of the typical venues."
Chive Fest made its debut in June this year, in Chicago, and a Seattle installment followed in July. Still to come in 2014 are Chive Fests in Denver and Dallas.
The Chive is an entertainment website that has gained a large following with photo-heavy posts featuring cute animals, half-naked women and assorted in-jokes, most prominently the catchphrase "Keep Calm and Chive On." It also spotlights a handful of charities each month, donating some money directly and offering wide exposure for those organizations. It recently launched an events department, Chive Live, which is organizing the festivals.
The site has a particularly large following in Denver, which is one reason the city was selected for Chive Fest. In July, Chive Fest announced its college-radio-ready lineup and $77 general-admission ticket price. It also made nods to the culture established by the site, promising "oversized ostriches, blimps, fireworks, cats, Chivettes, and enough glowing green to make Denver Chive Fest visible from space."
The announcement was enough to provoke representatives of the neighborhood associations in Park Hill, Congress Park, South City Park and City Park to write a letter to Denver Parks and Rec. In it, they voiced concerns about the impact on the park and neighborhood from the noise and the influx of cars and people; they had questions about security, as well. They also asked why the zoo, which objected to Mile High Music Festival, remained silent on Chive Fest.