Aug 182011
 
Authors: Jason Pohl

From the opening notes of the Lionel Young Band to the closing chords of You Me and Apollo, Fort Collins was rocked, rapped and blues-ed last weekend during the 7th annual Bohemian Nights at the 23rd annual NewWestFest.

More than 120 performances spanned across nine stages located throughout downtown Fort Collins. Additionally, hundreds of merchant tents and food vendors sold everything from Indian feather art to fried turkey legs to patrons hanging out under the hot sun and even Sunday’s steady rain.

Temperatures reached into the 90s, but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the weekend of free entertainment.

“It gives such a great sense of community,” said Devyn Robuck, an incoming freshman art major. “The rain adds to it – everyone is sticking through it together.”

About 80 bands, mostly from Colorado, took part in the festival. Headliner shows were held each night and included the Tedeschi Trucks Band on Saturday and Asleep at the Wheel on Sunday.

“This is one of the best festivals of the year,” said Fort Collins resident Gary Haas, a CSU graduate from 2004.

The musical component of NewWestFest comes from a partnership with the Bohemian Foundation – a group established in 2001 that encourages community involvement and cooperation through art and expression.

Until the partnership with the Bohemian Foundation seven years ago, NewWestFest was an annual festival that included some music but was focused on bringing the community together through art.

Though thousands crowded downtown’s sidewalks, and beer tents were located throughout the festival, it remained a relatively calm weekend

“We saw a weekend where a lot of people enjoyed themselves with no significant police-related incidents,” said Rita Davis, Fort Collins Police Service public information manager.

This is in contrast to the hours after last year’s Earth Wind and Fire concert when a group of nearly 400 squared off against police officers and SWAT members. Vendor tents were damaged and several people were sent to area hospitals during the riot – an event Sergeant Jeremy Yonce called “an anomaly.”

Peggy Lyle, the programming and event director of the Downtown Business Association, said the most challenging part of the whole event is pushing for improvements.

“As we get more bands, it becomes a much larger management of the project,” she said. “We really want to focus on quality and not just quantity.”

Headliner shows are normally announced in the spring. Bands interested in becoming a part of next year’s event can visit www.downtownfortcollins.com for more information.

Staff writer Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com

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