The whole gamut

Boulder Art & JazzFest gives us one more excuse to party

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Boulder's Art & JazzFest is a feast for the eyes and the ears.
Courtesy of State of the Arts Productions

Boulder Art & JazzFest is the icing on an already decadent cake that is the 4th of July holiday weekend. Taking place from July 2-4, the festival gives locals one more excuse to celebrate in the name of our country’s birth. With nine local bands, dozens of gourmet street vendors, more than 100 local artisans, a beer garden, free live music and four jumping castles for the kids, it’s difficult to think of a celebratory element the festival lacks. 

The event adopts a temperament of homage, with groups like Juba Juba and Purple Squirrel, plus tribute bands from the likes of the Grateful Dead and the Andrews Sisters. And of course there will be jazz from groups like the Flatirons Jazz Orchestra, Franny and the Jets and Max Wagner, but also bands like Harlequintet’s new world music and ska/rock-inspired dance music group The Mighty Twisters. 

According to Tim Newberg of State of the Arts Productions, the company that organizes the Art & JazzFest, the festival is more than just a tribute to the arts. Partial proceeds from beer sales will go to Olive Branch Ministries, a nonprofit based out of Brighton, Colorado, working to bring resources to individuals of Uganda and Rwanda.

“We tell people drink a beer, save a life,” Newberg says. “We’re celebrating our freedom here, and it helps bring freedom to children in Africa.”

The statement might seem overly simplistic, but as Olive Branch’s website points out, “Almost half of the world, over 3 billion people, live on less than $2.50 a day. One billion of them are children who struggle each day below the poverty line.” Add up your weekend bar tab and you really could help a great cause — one that seeks to provide resources to people recovering from war and poverty.

With a beer in hand, you can also explore locally made crafts and foods. Among the rows of tents, expect to find handcrafted jewelry, sweet smelling candles, hand-stitched accessories and, of course, face painting — the mark of any true festival. 

The food and beverage end of things looks just as bright, including food from Boulder’s own Zeal, treats like vegan Italian ice, and sangria from local winery What We Love.   

And since the Art & JazzFest falls on the same day as the Boulder County Farmers’ Market, Saturday in Boulder Central Park will be an overflow of sunscreen-slicked bodies and smiling mouths sipping beer. It also means you can charge up the credit card without remorse, knowing that every dollar spent on vegetables, paintings and beer goes to a well-deserving pocket.

But let’s not forget the music. (Did we mention it’s free?) The festival starts bright and early, with a performance by The Denver Dolls on Saturday at 9 a.m. and wraps up on Monday at 5 p.m. with local classic rock group Hindsight. In between those three days is a slew of assorted music and art.

“We try to cover the whole gamut [of music], from the ’40s until now,” Newberg says.

Simply stated, Boulder Art & JazzFest offers a good excuse to lounge in the sun and spend your dollars locally.

“This is an event where we can really celebrate our independence,” Newberg says. “More so even than our freedom because that’s what Boulder is about. It’s about being independent and following your heart, following your dreams and living your life. Which is better than the alternative, right?”