What to expect from the upcoming Grandoozy music festival

The inaugural festival hits Overland Park next weekend


Superfly, a New York-based festival producer, has had its eyes on Denver as the setting for its latest project for the past five years. This month, those dreams become reality when Grandoozy opens at the Overland Park Golf Course for the first of what the company hopes will be a long-term music festival.

Superfly is the company behind Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Outside Lands in San Fransisco, two festivals have been around for 16 and 10 years, respectively. For David Erlich, executive producer of Grandoozy and executive director of the Denver Theatre District, the festival is more than just an opportunity to celebrate music — it’s a means to bring the community together.

Superfly is “not looking to do something for a couple years, they’re looking to build an institution,” he said. “The community’s been an enormous ally and strength for us.”

Grandoozy will be held at the Overland Park Golf Course at 1801 S. Huron St. from Sept. 14-16. In addition to the three music stages, the festival will have 30 food vendors, liquor samples, 18 breweries, an outdoor sports area and more.

Headliners are Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine and Stevie Wonder. AEG Presents helped with music booking. Each day is themed around the headliner, Erlich said. Single-day tickets start at $99, while tickets for the whole festival start at $259.

“I think we got a little lucky because Kendrick Lamar is one of the most important artists in America today, Stevie Wonder is a legend and Florence and the Machine are one of the best festival bands you could possibly see,” he said. “As a first-year festival, and that kind of diversity as well, it just doesn’t happen that often.”

Working with community

Capacity for the festival is 80,000 each day, but Erlich estimated that in the first year Grandoozy will have between 15,000 and 20,000 people attend daily.

Because of the large attendance, Erlich encourages people to find alternate means of getting to the festival. The festival will have a free bike valet. The golf course is close to the Evans and Broadway light-rail stations — the latter will have a free shuttle to the festival. People in Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs can also purchase tickets for a regional shuttle.

Erlich and the Superfly team also are putting together a foundation that will give back to the community. Per Superfly’s contract with the city, $1 of every ticket sold will go into a community fund.

Mara Owen, co-president of the Overland Park Neighborhood Accociation with Amy Razzaque, said Erlich came to several meetings in order to make sure concerns from residents were being addressed. The association decided to remain neutral on the festival, but Owen said several members of the neighborhood supported Grandoozy at council meetings. Superfly also made sure neighborhood members were present during parking committees and other groups as details of the festival were worked out.

Owen said the organizers did not hold back details and made sure Overland Park knew there might be some kinks to work out in the first year.

“We’ve had what I would consider an extensive amount of outreach,” she said. “They’ve been really honest and open.”

For the past two years, Erlich has been working with city officials and nearby Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNO) to build a festival that people can enjoy without disturbing surrounding residents.

The process has been worth it for Erlich, who lives near the Bonnie Brae neighborhood. Working with the community to find local restaurants, brewers and distillers has led him to businesses he did not know existed.

“It’s comprehensive, and it’s not easy. It takes a lot of time,” he said, “but I will tell you, it’s been incredibly rewarding to get to know the community. (Overland is) a hidden gem in Denver.”

Councilmember Jolon Clark of district seven, which includes Overland, said Superfly has also created an accounability committee which includes members of the golf community in Denver as well as neighborhood residents. This group started meeting more recently and will help make sure things continue to go well.

Scouting for a venue

Finding Overland Park was an adventure, Erlich said.

When he first met Superfly founder Rick Farman five years ago, the pair spent two years searching for the perfect location for Grandoozy. What’s ideal about Overland Park is that it has history as the oldest golf course in Denver. It is also surrounded by an industrial area and Santa Fe Drive, which can both help diffuse noise from the shows. While Erlich said it is unlikely they will hit 50,000 attendees per day in the festival’s first year, the golf course is sizable enough that it can hold large groups of people as the event grows.

Stages will face the industrial section of the neighborhood, away from the residential section along the southern border, Erlich said. Supefly has also worked with the city to ensure people won’t park in the neighborhood during the festival. Area residents will have hanging tags on their cars to show they live there.

The company’s outreach within the community and dedication to answering questions has helped move the festival along, but Erlich said it also helped to build good will within the community. While he said the festival won’t be perfect the first year, they are going to keep working with the neighborhoods to improve Grandoozy in the years to come.

“We focused very clearly on how to we protect that southern neighborhood from issues,” Erlich said. “If you start listening to people in the beginning, then they’ll give you some leeway that you’ll be able to deal with problems.”


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