Zombies, luchadores and performing pigs: Andrew Novick on Denver County Fair fun
Whether he's performing in the Warlock Pinchers, using human blood to make art, or doing weird things with Peeps, Andrew Novick is always entertaining. That makes him a natural fit for the Denver County Fair's entertainment director. For his second year in that post, Novick is pulling out all the stops to make sure the fair is a nonstop barrage of fun, filling every nook and cranny of the site with bands, zombies, luchadores and performing pigs. There's so much stuff you could never see it all in one day, but Novick is quick to point out that this year, that's not an issue: Day passes are a thing of the past. "Forget picking a day, it's $10 for the whole weekend," he says. "Come and go as you please! It's to encourage people to come back and not have to pick between things."
Before the fair gets started Friday, August 9 at the National Western Complex, we caught up with Novick to talk about how he became the entertainment director, what to expect at this year's event, and just what the hell is the deal with his X-Treme Pancake and Breakfast Burrito breakfasts.
Westword: You're the fair's entertainment director, right?
Andrew Novick: Yeah, that's one of my titles. I have multiple titles. I'm one of the directors, and I'm also breakfast boss.
Do you have a title that's your favorite?
Probably breakfast boss.
It does sound pretty cool. Director sounds formal and stuffy, but breakfast boss ... that's just a sweet title.
Yeah, my wife doesn't like it. She's like, "Breakfast boss? What are you, in the mafia?" And I'm like, "Yeah, the breakfast mafia." I'm like a crime boss. I'm making sure everything's how it should be.
Breaking legs if they don't get the right pancake toppings?
Last year you were the entertainment director as well, right? Or you held multiple titles last year, too?
Yeah, I had multiple titles last year as well. But the first year, I originally came on board just in charge of the breakfast. When Dana [Cain] came up with the whole idea of the fair, she was like, "Hey, if we do this, if we pull this off, we want you to do the pancake breakfast." So that's how I got involved. For years I had done what I call a breakfast-B-Q, where I do a barbecue every summer and cook breakfast foods on a grill and people would bring crazy toppings. So that's how I became the pancake guy. I did that for like ten years. Once I started this breakfast, it became all public. People can come and get like eighty different toppings to choose from.
The first year, I had a lot of ideas, so I ended up managing the stadium arena, which is where Devo played. There were a bunch of bands and stuff there. After playing that limited role, the following year Dana was like, "We need you on board as a director." So I help with logistics and maps and stuff. It's a good check and balance. Between Dana and Tracy [Weil] and I, we're all totally different kinds of people with different ideas, so we're able to bounce things around.
What's your vision for the fair as entertainment director?
Last year, my proposed title was going to be fun police. [Laughs.] I was like, breakfast boss and fun police! I want to make it fun for anybody who comes -- to make sure there's something for everybody and something going on at all times. It's really not just entertainment per se, but making an experience for people who come..... We had a real tight budget this year -- last year I got a lot of fairly notable bands from Denver but a lot of bands played in our main stage area, which was a little bit off the beaten path. And I realized that people had just seen a lot of their favorite bands at the UMS like three weeks before. People came and they were so overwhelmed and excited by what they were seeing walking around they didn't really go outside the main area to go see bands. So I was like, "We can't have things outside the main area, and everyone has just seen their favorite bands."
So this year my approach was to have a bunch of awesome bands you've never heard of. I tried to find bands that hadn't played UMS and haven't played a lot, some young bands. It's still going to be entertaining, but what we found was that people didn't come to see bands. When they watched bands they enjoyed it, and while people are walking around it's great to have live music -- but it the bands weren't really the destination idea for the fair.
So you went a little deeper with the music this year to shake things up?
Yeah, I found some real young bands, kind of unknowns. There's a band in Lafayette I've seen, called the Foggy Basement Boys. I guarantee they've never played in Denver. It's a bunch of guys who go to all the festivals, bluegrass, Rocky Grass, they jam with all the big guys, but these are just fun guys who play their own stuff. I was like, "Hey, you guys should come. Get out of the basement and come play at the fair!" It's going to be super- cool and I guarantee that no one has ever seen them.
That gives it a little more appeal to people who are into the music scene, but it's not bands they saw at UMS or Westword Music Showcase or last weekend at the hi-dive. It's a chance for them to see something they don't see all the time.
Exactly. There's another band called the Threadbarons. I don't know a whole lot about them, but they approached us. They were like, "Hey, are you guys picking bands for the fair?" And I was like, "Yeah, what do you have?" They sent me some links and I thought the stuff was cool. It's kind of alt-country, alt-folk but it's some twenty-something-looking kids. I thought it was cool that this very young band approached us. I'd love to give that opportunity to somebody who knew about the fair and wanted to be involved.