Best of Boulder East County 2019 — Entertainment & Culture

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April Christenson, artist and teacher at pARTiculars Art Gallery & Teaching Studio
Susan France

ART GALLERY

PARTICULARS ART GALLERY & TEACHING STUDIO
401 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-890-7888
Louisville Winner: dona laurita photography + fine art
Longmont Winner: Firehouse Art Center
There are a lot of art galleries where you can see and buy art, but pARTiculars Art Gallery & Teaching Studio is much more than that. Sure, pARTiculars is a great place to pick up that special painting, piece of pottery, fine art photograph or hand-crafted jewelry you’ve been looking for, but it’s still more than that. This gallery is as much about building community. As its mission statement says, pARTiculars is “a gallery and teaching studio committed to excellence in art and art education, with a purpose to nurture and promote artistic passion in artists, students and the community.” No wonder our readers love this place.

Live Jazz Venue

NISSI’S
2675 Northpark Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-2757
Longmont Winner: The Speakeasy
Louisville Winner: Bittersweet – Cafe & Confections
Not even the naysayers can claim jazz is dead after they set foot in Nissi’s. Here, you’ll find all kinds of combos tackling everything from the standards to contemporary pieces. Prefer jazz piano? Nissi’s has you covered. Need something a little more modern? Nissi’s has you covered. Like a hot horn? You get where this is going. And, let’s be honest, hot jazz likes a cold beverage, and you better believe Nissi’s has you covered in that arena as well. Try “The Otis,” it’s tasty and refreshing like a night in jail. Ya dig?

NONPROFIT

LONGMONT HUMANE SOCIETY
9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, 303-772-1232
Lafayette Winner: Sister Carmen Community Center
If you’ve ever wanted to know the quality of a person’s soul, pay attention to how they treat animals and the elderly. That’ll tell you more than any astrology or advice column, and that means those 800-plus volunteers working at the Longmont Humane Society are some of the best souls you’ll find in the county. More than 2,000 animals a year find forever homes thanks to the Longmont Humane Society. Need to surrender a pet? Look no further, and feel no shame. These people are a force for good in this increasingly distressing world.

BANK/FINANCIAL INSTITUTION

ELEVATIONS CREDIT UNION
1900 W. South Boulder Road, Lafayette, 303-443-4672
1079 S. Hover Road, Suite 100, Longmont, 303-443-4672
777 21st Ave., Longmont, 303-443-4672
300 S. McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 303-443-4672
Runner Up, East County: Chase Bank (Gunbarrel, Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville)
Not all credit unions are created equal. If you’ve banked with the wrong one, you know what we’re talking about. Our readers say it’s time to switch to Elevations Credit Union. It’s been a local business since 1953, and manages over $2 billion in assets. Its charitable arm, the Elevations Foundation, provides scholarships, grants for nonprofits and resources for those in need. Plus, Elevations spring for all those comfy seatbacks every summer at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Elevations isn’t just a bank; it’s a part of our community (and keeping our keesters comfy while we watch the Bard).

PUBLIC SCHOOL (K-8)

LOUISVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
400 Hutchinson St., Louisville, 720-561-7200
Runner Up, East County: Lafayette Elementary School
Some of the best minds of any generation were fostered at public schools. And at Louisville Elementary School, those minds get a head start. With programs that run the gamut from Early Childhood Education (ECE) to Parent Engagement Network (PEN), Louisville Elementary knows that education starts early and never truly ends. Even better, Louisville Elementary is constantly looking for sustainable ways to train minds and fill bellies. From greenBVSD to being an Eco-Cycle Green Star School, you can be confident when sending your little ones to this place of opportunity. The future starts here.

Susan France Red Zone at the Pumphouse Brewery bartender Nick Wishner

SPORTS BAR

RED ZONE AT THE PUMPHOUSE BREWERY
540 Main St., Longmont, 303-702-0881
Erie Winner: The Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill
Louisville Winner: Mudrock’s Tap & Tavern
One, two, three, four, five, six, 10, we give up. Let’s just say there are a whole lot of TVs in the Red Zone at the Pumphouse Brewery, and all of them have on some sort of sports coverage. A great sports bar is the closest thing to a hometown you can get when you were born someplace else. Sure, the local Colorado teams get the most play, but if you’re there to cheer for Chicago, Green Bay, Miami (oops, scratch that last one), chances are you can find someone wearing the same color jersey as you. And where better to cheer, moan and curse a referee than a sports bar that makes its own great beer, has ample seating, a full bar and a stellar food menu? Our readers love this place, even the Raiders fans.

OPEN MIC

CANNON MINE COFFEE
210 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 303-665-0625
Longmont Winner: The Speakeasy
Louisville Winner: Waterloo
Lyons Winner: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
Cannon Mine Coffee is Lafayette’s community living room, a place to go and enjoy a well-crafted coffee drink, have a nosh, and catch live local music on Wednesday nights at our readers’ favorite open mic. What makes Cannon Mine’s open mic so great is how much this business cares about the community it serves. Inspired by the live music and locally created art that typified Boulder’s gone-but-not-forgotten Penny Lane coffee shop, John Cumalat opened Cannon Mine Coffee in 2013 to carry on that community-centric tradition. He’s clearly succeeded, capturing the hearts of our readers and once again claiming the title of Best Open Mic in East County.

PLACE TO DANCE

NISSI’S
2675 Northpark Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-2757
Longmont Winner: The Speakeasy
Lyons Winner: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
Walking through Nissi’s front door is kind of like Gene Kelly making his way into the speakeasy in Singin’ in the Rain. You gotta dance. Granted, none of us here can cut a rug quite like Kelly, but at Nissi’s that doesn’t matter. All are welcome on the floor, and depending on your taste of boogie — R&B, bluegrass, jukebox tribute rock, Latin, a cappella — you’re bound to find something to shake your groove thing to in here. Slightly apprehensive? Worry not, Nissi’s has a bar. Oh, does it ever have a bar. You’ll be shaking one loose in no time.

STAFF PICK: Best place to laugh maniacally and tap your fingertips together
NOAA Table Mountain Test Facility, Longmont
There are a lot of places where laughing maniacally and tapping your fingers together would send a statement — the soda fountain at McDonald’s, the Lafayette Peach Festival, the Mint Room at Celestial Seasonings. But doing so at any other place than outside the satellites at the NOAA Table Mountain Test Facility would be a waste of time. People would drive by and be like, “Um, what?” and “Should we call the police?” The answers to those questions are yes and yes, but you’ll be too busy laughing maniacally and tapping your fingertips to answer.

PRIVATE SCHOOL

DAWSON SCHOOL
10455 Dawson Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-6679
Longmont Winner: Boulder Valley Waldorf School
Louisville Winner: St. Louis Catholic School
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” W.B. Yeats once said. And at Dawson School, once again voted best private school in East County by our readers, this is key. From kindergarten through 12th grade, students at Dawson are encouraged to find their individual potential through a variety of specializations and disciplines. Plus, teachers and staff foster personal growth through a dedication to excellence of mind, body and character. At Dawson, the teachers and staff believe learning can lead the way to creative and resilient problem-solving. They also teach students to be respectful, compassionate, courageous and to live with integrity as they interact with the world around them. Such principles give us hope for the future.

Susan France Kai checks out groceries at the WOW! Children’s Musuem.

MUSEUM

WOW! CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
110 N. Harrison Ave., Lafayette, 303-604-2424
Longmont Museum: Longmont Museum and Cultural Center
Louisville Winner: Louisville Historical Museum
Wow is right. This place can keep the kids — and the kid in all of us — entertained for hours on end. WOW! Children’s Museum offers hands-on, educational exhibits that will inspire learning and growth in the arts and sciences for kids of all ages. Whoever said learning couldn’t be fun never spent a day at WOW! Whether your kid wants to be a doctor, a firefighter, an artist, a paleontologist, an astronaut or something else entirely, this place can help those dreams come true, all while you’re having fun in a creative, safe environment.

FESTIVAL/EVENT

LOUISVILLE DOWNTOWN STREET FAIRE
Downtown Louisville
Erie Winner: Erie Town Fair & Balloon Festival
Lafayette Winner: Lafayette’s Art Night Out
Longmont Winner: Longmont Farmers Market
Life is just like it should be” at the Louisville Downtown Street Faire. Enjoy the warmth and late-light of summer nights every Friday as Louisville transforms into a community get-together, complete with food vendors, cold drinks, children’s activities, arts and crafts booths and other stations and events the whole family can enjoy. Plus, the stage at Steinbaugh Pavilion hosts multiple musical acts every week, creating a fun-filled atmosphere that invites one and all to cut loose on the dance floor. Bring your kids, dogs and dancing shoes to the Street Faire, and you’re sure to have a good time.

Susan France Daniel Ryan, principal at Centaurus High School

PUBLIC SCHOOL (9-12)

CENTAURUS HIGH SCHOOL
10300 S. Boulder Road, Lafayette, 720-561-7500
Longmont Winner: Longmont High School
Louisville Winner: Monarch High School
What makes a school great is a combination of challenging, innovative classes and engaged teachers, and our readers say that Centaurus High School in Lafayette has that in spades — and more. Centaurus’ Advanced Placement courses, Engineering Academy, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), fine arts, International Baccalaureate and extra-curricular programs ensure that each student is prepared for the most rigorous academic majors at the university level. Plus, Centaurus’ size allows students to participate more fully in their high school experience, garner more personal assistance and build lasting relationships with both peers and faculty. It’s easy to see why our readers say Centaurus is their favorite public school in East County.

MUSIC VENUE

NISSI’S
2675 Northpark Drive, Lafayette, 303-665-2757
Longmont Winner: The Dickens Tavern and Opera House
Louisville Winner: Waterloo
Lyons Winner: Oskar Blues Grill & Brew
What can we possibly say about Nissi’s that hasn’t already been said? You can dance — and you gotta dance. You can swing — swing with the jazz musicians to roll through town. You can rock — with the greatest hits of yesterday, today and tomorrow. And you can boogie — Eddie Murphy-style — until the cows come home. You can laugh along with the comedy stars of tomorrow, and you can eat and drink more unique creations than we can count. If you’ve been here, you know. If you haven’t? What’s taking so long? Nissi’s has defended its title, three times if you’re counting. Isn’t that reason enough?

PLACE TO WI-FI

BITTERSWEET – CAFE & CONFECTIONS
836 Main St., Louisville, 303-317-5522
Runner Up, East County: Starbucks
Wi-Fi-in’ isn’t so much about where to find free Wi-Fi (it’s pretty much everywhere nowadays); it’s about Wi-Fi-in’ some place you feel comfortable. And few places are as comfortable in East County as Bittersweet — Cafe & Confections. Located in downtown Louisville, Bittersweet feels like home, but with someone else making your coffee or warming up a croissant or three. They have food, and plenty of it, to keep you going while you check the news, research that school paper, get caught up on those emails or procrastinate on Facebook.

STAFF PICK: Best place to make a sword after the government confiscates your guns
TinkerMill
1840 Delaware Place, Unit A, Longmont, 720-204-3090
Swordmaking is almost a lost art in this day and age, but we think swords might be making a comeback. The TinkerMill makerspace boasts a wide variety of stations and equipment to help you with all your maker needs, including fabrics and textiles, welding, an electronics and robotics lab, a woodshop and, of course, the forge and foundry. Meet up with others learning how to forge a variety of items, but “mostly, swords. Because, well, swords,” as it says on TinkerMill’s website. The question isn’t: Why swords? It’s: why not?

Susan France Nick Digiallonardo shoots pool at Henry’s Bar & Grill.

PLACE TO PLAY POOL

HENRY’S BAR & GRILL
935 Pine St., Louisville, 303-665-9966
Runner Up, East County: Mudrock’s Tap & Tavern
Longmont Winner: Red Zone at Pumphouse Brewery
Why Henry’s Bar & Grill? Because you know as well as we do that you shouldn’t drink alone. And why would you want to when you could be at Henry’s rubbing blue chalk between your fingers, listening to a jukebox while knocking back a reasonably priced adult beverage as you prophesy, “eight ball in the corner pocket.” We agree with our readers; this place is great. A real bar filled with real people and real pool tables, all tucked in an old blue building with the best mural in the county painted on the side. Rack ’em up.