Q&A: Sharon Alton on “A Taste of Colorado” Festival


Courtesy The Event Group.

The annual “A Taste of Colorado” festival, held over Labor Day weekend, is going into its 35th year, and this year, the Downtown Denver Partnership is re-imagining this collage of food and music with stronger headliners and new features. Sharon Alton, vice president of DDP’s Downtown Experience, talks about what Denver can expect this year:

First off, what is “A Taste of Colorado”?

“A Taste of Colorado is a large food, music, beverage, and entertainment marketplace festival that takes place in Civic Center Park every Labor Day. While every year we’ve had the marketplace, then beverage and food and music, this year we have a re-envisioned ‘A Taste of Colorado,’ really focusing on the music, with headliners who are of a much higher quality than we’ve ever had.”

Who are the headliners?

“On Saturday, Sept. 1, REO Speedwagon will be our closing national act, with George Thorogood and Firefall performing earlier. Sunday is our country day; LeAnn Rimes will be our headlining act, and we’ll also have David Nail and Mitchell Tenpenny. Monday is our contemporary day; Smash Mouth is our closing headliner, after Sugar Ray, Everclear, and Soul Asylum. Two other stages will have Colorado and Denver acts playing.”

What vendors will be there?

“We have 50-plus food vendors serving diverse cuisines; people can get tastings to full meals, and two or three options in between, plus lots of desserts. There’s also 170 marketplace vendors.”

For the first time, “A Taste of Colorado” has an exclusive VIP section. 

“The Capitol VIP Experience is sponsored by Patrón Tequila. Broncos stars from past Super Bowls will be hanging out with the VIP patrons each day. Patrons can get food and beverages inside in the air-conditioning and use inside bathrooms, then go outside for premiere viewing of acts on the main stage. The tickets are $119 per day, per person, and can be purchased at axs.com. With that, you get two free drinks and one free meal and then lots of free food and beverage tastings. The VIP section is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 8 p.m. on Monday.”

What can Denver residents expect from the festival?

“This is a really great family-friendly festival. Whether you go Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, if you like to shop, you’ll like it; if you’re a foodie and like to try different kinds of new food in Colorado, you’ll like it; if you just like the music acts and the music festival feel, you’ll have a great time. We’re excited to showcase this re-envisioned festival to new audiences; for people who came 10 or 20 years ago, this festival will look completely different.”

You’ve both planned and attended this festival—what is your recommended plan of action?

“For either a family or an individual, look on our website at the music schedule. On Saturday, it’s classic rock day; on Sunday, it’s country day;and on Monday it’s contemporary day. See which bands you want to see, which days and times the Broncos stars will be there, and that way there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The Kids Zone will have entertainment all day, and if you walk around the festival, you’ll stumble into lots of food options. And I always do all my Colorado gear impulse shopping at the festival because there’s such great things.”


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