Column by Clarke Reader

Denver does Derby Day in a big way

Recommended activities for the coming week

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The Kentucky Derby is an American tradition that goes all the way back to 1875 and has become an event that not only celebrates horse racing, but spring style and quality libations. And though Denver is more than a thousand miles from Louisville's Churchill Downs, the Denver metro area has fully embraced the race and its culture.

“We're the largest Derby party outside of Louisville,” said Drake Harris, board member of the Sean “Ranch” Lough Foundation, which hosts the Denver Derby Party at the Denver Performing Arts Complex's Sculpture Park. “This year we'll host up to 5,500 guests. We've turned the Derby into an occasion rather than an event.”

This year's Derby falls on May 4, and there's a bevy of options to select from. Numerous bars all over the metro area will be screening the race and offering specials, but some places go above and beyond. Just some examples include a Mini Derby at The North Green, Derby Day at Union Station and Jockeys, Juleps and Jazz and a Pool Terrace viewing party at Denver's Four Seasons Hotel.

No matter which party you attend, there are certain things they're going to have in common: there will be mint juleps as far as the eye can see, you're going to hear a lot of big band and Dixieland jazz and you better bring your A-game when it comes to clothing.

“Part of the success of the event is that it's kind of the opening of spring, so people get to go out in their fancy clothes,” Harris said. “Both guys and gals take their outfits very seriously.”

Another commonality is many of the derby parties raise money for charity. The Mini Derby collects for Minds Matter of Denver and Next Step Horse Rescue, while for the past 18 years, the Denver Derby Party has been 100 percent for the Sean “Ranch” Lough Foundation, which provides full-ride scholarships to Colorado State University to inner-city youths.

“This is an event with a cause, and we take that very seriously. We tell our recipients they're getting the same kind of scholarship as a star quarterback,” Harris said. “The stories from these students are amazing and we're super proud to support them. And we're happy to do that by throwing a terrific event.”

Visit www.denverderby.com and www.denver.org/search/?q=derby for tickets and information on the events.

Clarke's Concert of the Week — Tom Odell at the Bluebird Theater

Singer/songwriter Tom Odell excels at writing the kind of intricately simple piano and guitar driven tunes reminiscent of the work of classic artists like Billy Joel and Elton John.

Odell's most recent album, “Jubilee” might be his strongest collection of tunes yet. It's the perfect album to put on for sunny morning or a rainy afternoon with a couch or a book. Which means it'll translate beautifully to the intimate Bluebird Theater stage.

The British musician will visit the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 3.

For tickets, visit www.bluebirdtheater.net.

Odyssey Beerwerks shoots first

Odyssey Beerwerks has found an active way to celebrate May 4, also known as "Star Wars" day. The brewery will be joining with Rocky Mountain Brew Runs to host the "May the Fourth Brew with You" run. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at Odyssey, 5535 W. 56th Ave., No. 107 in Arvada.

The 4-mile fun run will be along the flat and fast Ralston Creek trail. Participants will finish with an ice-cold beer, food from a local food truck, live music and fun games. Runners are encouraged to dress in their favorite "Star Wars" costumes and clothing.

For the pertinents, visit www.rockymountainbrewruns.com/ody/.

A revealing trip to 'Hollyweird'

Audiences who check out “Hollyweird,” at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5 at Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, will get a glimpse at some of the hidden stories from La La Land.

Chris Parente — a seven-time Emmy Award winning reporter, anchor and entertainment host — will take the stage with John Jurcheck and Candy Brown to share stories behind the silver screen.

For tickets and information on what is sure to be an entertaining and fascinating show, call 303-494-0523 or visit www.storiesonstage.org.

Clarke Reader's column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.

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