KUSA — I didn't know what to expect when I was approved to cover Grandoozy - last week's three-day music and arts festival at Denver's historic Overland Park Golf Course.
I attended a similar festival in Denver last year that promised similar things: Great music! Great food! Great bands! Instead, the lines to get beer were at least 45 minutes long and the people at security told me "just go in; today has been a mess," when I asked where I could pick up my media credentials.
That being said, my expectations were pretty low for Grandoozy, especially since the festival - managed by Superfly Productions - was in its first year.
Below is a breakdown of how I felt the festival went, split up by key points.
Music and bands
This was my first music festival of this size with multiple stages that wasn't Taste of Colorado or say Norman Music Fest (shout out to Oklahoma!), so I didn't know how acts on three stages could rock out - loudly - without it all bleeding together into a cacophony punctuated by someone's "WOOO!"
Obviously, the person who designed the layout of the festival had a background in this that was more extensive than mine because at any given time, you could only hear the band you were focusing on.
On the two days I attended, I made it to the festival when the sun was setting (90 degree temperatures and I don't really mix), so I was able to catch Kendrick Lamar on Friday as well as Young the Giant and Florence + The Machine on Saturday.
Let me say this - all three of these acts were phenomenal. The main "Rock" stage had a massive and crisp video screen, which was a welcome sight to my 5-foot-nothing self. The production value was of top quality as well. With the transitions and cutaways, it was easy to forget this was happening live and wasn't an edited feed.
When we walked to one of the exits of the festival in an attempt to beat the traffic (more about that later), we could still hear Kendrick as he closed his set with HUMBLE. It was muffled, but still worthwhile for being several hundred feet away.
I arrived at the event via Lyft. The ride sharing company wasn't the "official partner" of Grandoozy (Uber was), but it still offered a statewide $10 off promotion this weekend. The ride there was reasonably priced and the area to drop off passengers (the far-right lane of southbound Santa Fe Drive from Florida to Evans Avenue) was explicitly marked.
Despite this, police were out in full force - ticketing drivers who picked up or dropped off in the wrong area or impeded traffic. Those tickets come with a fine and possible points on the driver's license. One of our Lyft drivers told us he knew someone who was slapped with a $93 ticket for this.
The area we were dropped off was close enough to one of the festival entrances, but some people chose to use an e-scooter from the rideshare area to the gates.
Leaving the venue was - as expected - hectic. On Friday, we decided to leave just before Kendrick Lamar wrapped up his set thinking we would beat the crowd. We did in a sense, but not by much. On the walk out, we decided to call a Lyft. The price to get back to my home (which is 5 miles away) was $60, with the $10 discount. We swiftly decided against that, and instead caught the free shuttle that Grandoozy offered (a pretty nice coach bus!) and took that to the I-25 and Broadway light rail station.
From the light rail station, we walked about a mile up Broadway just to get as far away from surge pricing as we could.
The traffic getting to the light rail station wasn't bad for those who were on the bus, but was a headache and half for anyone else in personal cars. Depending on which way you looked, it was either an endless sea of brake lights or headlights. The area where people were catching Uber or Lyfts was packed. Pedestrians were also not making the best decisions and were told so with incessant honking.
Food and drink
The food and drink lineup was crafted with just as, if not more, care than the music lineup, it seemed. Several of the food vendors were local (Illegal Pete's, Snooze and STK Denver were just a few of the Colorado offerings) and a good chunk of them priced meals fairly.
In a late night (read: 9 p.m.) moment of weakness, I spent $9 on a pretty mediocre slice of pepperoni pizza. I guess the price wasn't that terrible, considering a whole cheese pie from that same place was $45. I would have gone somewhere - anywhere, really - else, but at this time in the festival on Friday, a lot of places near the main "Rock" stage had either closed or run out of food.
The breweries pouring at Grandoozy were pretty impressive - there was a tent that gave me vibes of a much smaller GABF - and more than half had Colorado roots. One of the festival's major partners was Budweiser, so there was no shortage of Bud Light flowing. Also, Asheville, North Carolina-based Wicked Weed was pouring, which was bought two years ago by Anheuser-Busch.
For the amount of people who packed the south Denver golf course, the grounds at any given time were pretty tidy. After Young the Giant lit up the stage and crowds cleared on Saturday night, staff was out almost immediately picking up trash and making sure the area in front of the stage was pristine.
There were trash stations every about every 100 feet with clearly marked recycling and composting options.
The bathrooms were also a pleasant surprise - these were not your typical porta potties that you'd find filled to the brim at Cheeseman Park. They had lights on the inside as well as the ability to flush. Nice!
Also, if you're worried about the course, Superfly agreed to pay $90,000 for landscaping work when it signed a contract with the city of Denver. Grandoozy marks the first time Denver has ever approved an event to take place on one of its golf courses.
I had a grand time at Grandoozy. The festival, according to a contract approved by Denver City County in 2017, will be back through 2022. Outside of the transportation snafu (that will be hopefully solved with a partnership with RTD), it seemed to run smoothly - at least to an outsider looking in.
What did you think of the festival? I'd love to hear your pits and peaks. Email me at email@example.com