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Taste of Colorado, Cherry Creek Arts Festival rent larger venues to help with capacity

Organizers said the new locations help control crowd capacity and with safety, as COVID-19 cases begin to rise again.

DENVER — Editor's note: Both events are sponsored by 9NEWS.

For the first time since 2019, both A Taste of Colorado and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival are back for all of Labor Day weekend, with a few changes. 

The festivals come when concern is rising once again over the number of COVID-19 cases in the area. 

In Larimer County, ICU beds in the main hospitals for that region have been at capacity, and Boulder County just reinstated a mask mandate for all indoor public spaces. 

This year, both A Taste of Colorado and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival moved their locations to allow for more space and help control crowd capacity. 

Credit: Foster Gaines

A Taste of Colorado moved from its typical location at Civic Center Park to the 16th Street Mall.

"So in Civic Center Park there’s a few entrances and a few exits and we gather people tightly in that space so we wanted to spread people out there – there isn’t one entrance or one exit this year. You can come out to 16th Street Mall from any direction,” said Sharon Alton, the Senior Vice President of Downtown Experience at the Downtown Denver Partnership.

Alton said the goal was to help with distancing vendors and the crowd while shining more light on Denver's downtown.

“By bringing people to the heart of downtown and actually spreading them out and showcasing, whether it’s a new restaurant or a new hotel, we’re helping out our local businesses.” she said.

For the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Tara Brickell, Executive Director and CEO of CherryArts, said that they moved from the Cherry Creek North Mall to an outdoor area at Cherry Creek Shopping Center with the same goal: to help with safety.

“We needed a site that would be scalable," Brickell said. “That way we can capacity control and reach out to our patrons if necessary."

Overall, she said they're just happy to be back this year.

“It was really difficult for the first time in our 30-year history when we had to cancel the event, you know? But it was also for public health and safety so I think it was the right decision and we’re just happy to be back this year," she said.

Credit: Foster Gaines

Still, doctors are urging caution to those that are unvaccinated about these festivals. 

"The situation is crucial right now. As you know, even vaccinated people are being recommended to mask up in indoor public places because the rate of community transmission is significantly high," said Dr. Jaya Kumar, the Chief Medical Officer at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood.

The center is under HealthOne's system, which is also seeing a rise in patients in its hospitals.

"This Labor Day weekend is different from other years. We're seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases not just in HealthOne hospitals, but across Colorado, since January. Also, the rate of infections in the community is the highest since January as well," she said. 

Overall, she suggests people continue to practice safety measures as the pandemic continues. 

"If you're unvaccinated or you're immunocompromised, you should not be attending these festivals where there is crowding and people are standing next to each other, even if you're vaccinated and you do plan to attend these festivals, you have to be masked at all times in crowded places," Kumar said. "Vaccination is the only way to get out of the pandemic. As you know, vaccinations are extremely effective in preventing serious illness."

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