Ten new reasons to buy your ticket to the Denver County Fair now
If last year's inaugural Denver County Fair was a grand experiment, this year's "is going to blow the first one out of the water on all counts!" says DCF maestra Dana Cain. That's because Cain's mental notepad was a cover-to-cover frenzy of new ideas and lessons learned by the time the 2011 event was over, and she is, if anything, the most meticulous of event planners. She and fellow fair promoter Tracy Weil started planning for modifications a year ago, beginning with a date change allowing for extra produce-ripening time for contest entrants.
What they've ended up with is a fair that's bigger, wilder and even more Denver-centric than before: "Every fun thing that happens in Denver all year long is happening in three days here," Cain promises. But it's not just about popular culture, either -- all the traditional competitions, from sanctioned chicken judging to pie contests, will still be very much a part of the mix. "Every resident of this state should be able to find five things on the schedule that they will not want to miss," she adds.
Our ten favorite Denver County Fair 2012 improvements follow:
10. Andrew Novick
Cain and Weil were looking for a ringer, and they found one in Andrew Novick, whose successes at last year's fair -- in particular, his X-treme Pancake Breakfast, which featured scores of unique flavored butters and wacky toppings -- prompted them to promote him to Events Director in 2012, sealing the deal on a triumvirate of creative thinkers that Cain calls "the rock star, the gay farmer and the crazy grandma," adding that "we all bring different elements and specialties, but with the same vision." Novick -- who's known for being a compulsive collector, an eccentric artist/event planner and a founding member of Denver's legendary Warlock Pinchers -- will serve the underbelly of Denver culture by expanding his pancake spree and adding a breakfast burrito version on Sunday, introducing such pop-culture niches as zombies and J-pop fashion, adding a roundup of tribute bands and bringing Casa Bonita into the fair's mashup of presenters, to name just a few of his projects.
Jeff Ball, Denver County Fair
9. Fair food and drink improvements.
Due to contractual limitations posed by National Western's in-house servers K-M Concessions, last year's fair-food selection left something to be desired and was pricey, to boot. But the DCF team has done some tweaking to make it easier to bring in outside concessionaires -- most notably, food trucks -- and variety. In 2012, the fair will host daily Food Truck Round-Ups outside in the evenings (and late afternoon on Sunday), along with special outdoor events to keep things interesting, including a live cheeseburger-eating contest, Charles Phoenix's Cookie Castle Blast-Off, a graffiti art competition and a hot pepper-eating challenge. Indoors, a beer garden will be added, featuring Colorado wine and brews, and you'll be able to sample fried pickles, chocolate bacon, funnel cakes and the like throughout the weekend, using a free food map to find your way from booth to booth. And don't miss Ruby Ann Boxcar's trailer-trash cooking demos.
8. More competitions.
Make that more live competitions, in particular, where unregistered contestants can jump onstage in the heat of the moment to compete: Those will include everything from frequent diaper derbies to an impromptu costume contest. Official additions for 2012 are all over the map -- there's an all-ages spelling bee, the Magic Cyclops Denver Idol Karaoke Contest, supper hollerin', the Corpses & Crowns Zombie Pageant, Casa Bonita's Sopapilla Toss and Name That Sci-Fi tune with Tim Simpson, to name a few. Let your freak flag fly!
The list continues on the next page.