Grandoozy a ‘killer’ event in Denver's Overland Park (Photos)

About 55,000 people attended the three-day festival


In mid-September, Overland Park Golf Course’s fields nestled along the South Platte River became home to more than putters and par counts. The driving range instead was filled with music — 35 performances, in fact, over a three day weekend.

Grandoozy, one of the city’s first large musical festivals launched at the golf course for the inaugural Sept. 14-16 event, drawing an estimated 55,000 music lovers, according to organizers, to its three stages, yoga, dance parties with DJs, 30 dining vendors and 18 local breweries.

And it did so with relatively little adverse impact to surrounding neighborhoods, according to a neighborhood resident who said that despite a large amount of people and some hiccups on the event’s first day, the festival went as well as could be expected.

At 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Orr was awakened by the booms of microphone checks in the golf course. But a quick call to David Erlich, the Denver-based producer of the festival helped solve the problem. She also said people working the neighborhood hotline were quick to solve any problems from neighbors.

One of the biggest issues Orr had occured Sept. 14 when the concert ended. Crowds of people swarmed through the neighborhood, and some urniated in Orr’s yard. But the next two nights were more controlled, she said.

“They corrected. It was well-handled Saturday and Sunday night,” she said. “They’ve been accessible. They were responsive.”

Inside the festival

On the first night, Platt Park residents Cody and Bridget D’Angelo walked from their home to the festival. The couple had heard about Grandoozy more than a year ago and invited out-of-state friends to join them.

Bridget said it was the first real festival in the Denver area and with Superfly’s experience, she was excited to see what the company put together. She and Cody were able to walk to the festival from their house.

Superfly, the festival’s organizer, offered a limited number of discounted tickets — organizers offered a limited number of free tickets as well as half-off tickets — to residents in adjacent neighborhoods like Platt Park, Bridget said. But once they heard about the line-up, which featured national names such as Kendrick Lamar and Florence + The Machine, Bridget said she would have attended even without the discount.

Cody agreed.

“We just saw Bishop Briggs,” he said of the British singer and songwriter, “and she seemed stoked to be here.”

An economic and cultural boon

Although Superfly and city officials estimated Grandoozy could hold 80,000 people per day, Denver-based producer David Erlich estimated before the festival that first-year attendance would be closer to 20,000 each day. In total, the festival drew about 55,000 people over the weekend, said Chris Langley with Superfly’s media relations team.

Part of the excitement behind the event was the hope that it would be an economic driver for the city of Denver. Superfly co-founder Rick Farman said he did not have an estimate for how much money Grandoozy generated, but said the company’s other events, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, have made about $10 million each. He added that it will probably take some time before Grandoozy sees that kind of profit.

“It typically takes a number of years,” he said.

Allegra “Happy” Haynes, executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation, said she hoped festival attendees learned more about the city’s oldest golf course.

“Golfers all know this place,” she said. “A lot of people (were) here that know nothing about Overland.”

Katy Strascina, executive director of the city’s Special Events office, said the festival was also an opportunity to diversify its tourism market. Superfly staff focused on creating local flavor within the event, which helped to showcase the food, drink and outdoor experiences that Colorado has to offer, she said.

Music festivals are also becoming more popular and the city was lacking a large musical destination, said Strascina, noting that before Grandoozy, Colorado residents had to travel out of state to find that kind of festival experience.

Neighborhood impact

Before the festival, some residents in the Overland Park Neighborhood Association had concerns about the negative impact such a large festival could have on surrounding areas. The group eventually split into their own organization, the Neighbors of Overland North (NOON).

Orr, who is president of the neighborhood group, said she was glad the festival did not reach the estimated capacity of 80,000 people per day.

“Once you start talking about 80K people per day instead of 15 or 20, you’re just going to quadruple the problems,” she said. That’s going to be problematic in this neighborhood.”

She added that some factors, such as the use of fireworks during performances, were not fully explained to residents. Before the Kendrick Lamar show on Sept. 14, surrounding residents received an email saying fireworks and loud noises would be used during his set.

But overall, Orr said she was happy with how responsive Superfly staff were to resident questions and complaints.

Some attendees also complained about confusion around car-share pickup areas. Because there were so many cars and festival attendees, connecting was difficult, Highlands Ranch resident Brittany Brands said.

But Brands said she enjoyed the festival and its layout.

“I think this has been an amazing event,” she said. “The late afternoon lineup (was) killer.”


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