In its 19th year, NewWest Fest provided diversity, fun and a unique Fort Collins experience to an estimated 120,000 visitors. The annual event is organized by the Downtown Business Association, or the DBA, and appeared to have a successful year. In addition to more than 300 booths, the event held various amounts of crafts, performances and an appetizing food market.
An enticing food market
Placed in between the beer gardens, the food market carried unique and tantalizing restaurants and dishes. Among the shaved ice and lemonade booths, all of the senses were bombarded with Greek, Indian, Thai, German bratwurst, funnel cakes and barbecue, and those incredible little balls of heaven called Dippin’ Dots. There was also open accessibility to the dishes; people did not have to wait in line, or push past rowdy groups, and everything in terms of hot food was grilled or cooked in front of their eyes and nose.
Possibly the most impressive feature that cannot be ignored is the music presence at NewWest Fest. Provided at no cost to the festival-goers by Bohemian Nights, LLC, the festival featured over 65 bands on 5 downtown stages, all local or regional to Fort Collins (with a few headlining exceptions). The bands/groups were selected from a committee with strong musical backgrounds or industry buffs. With nearly 70 bands, there was no avoiding a wide variety of artists.
Each stage scheduled the bands in a way that seemed random, but actually the lineup had a cautiously created “flow,” as Executive Director of Bohemian Foundation and event coordinator Merry Hummell said.
“One of the goals of having such eclectic bands is to give exposure to the listeners at the event, and to give emerging artists a real audience,” Hummell said.
An event for everyone
Some patrons to the festival were content at being detached from the usual methods of attraction to downtown. Fort Collins resident Jodi Mounts, 42, and Meatball, Mounts’ St. Bernard training to become a therapeutic pet, came downtown to “sit in the shade and people watch.”
“I think it’s awesome for family and friends because there’s so much to see and do,” she said.
Just recently relocated to Fort Collins, resident Kelly Shepherd, 26, originally from Mississippi, got an immediate sense of community at the event.
“NewWest Fest teaches me everything about Fort Collins and the area,” she said.
Although, not everything went as planned, as Matt Slaughter, 18, freshman English major, pointed out.
“Next year they need to plan a day it doesn’t rain,” he said as it began to downpour. “My experience has been a little damp, both literally and metaphorically.” Slaughter said.
The overall appeal of NewWest Fest 2007 and Bohemian Nights was evident in the eyes of the summer-loving and experimental folks who attended the annual event. Exceptional music and cuisine easily might have been the highpoint of any locals’ weekend and hopefully can continue to be so for years to come.