Superfly’s Denver Music Festival Is Quite the Grandoozy

The three-day festival will bring a mix of international musicians to three stages set up around the quiet golf park. Colorado artists, chefs and bands will be showcased at the event.

Headliners, which organizers say will reflect the diversity of Colorado’s taste in music, will be announced on March 20.

Grandoozy has been in the works for four years, and is a collaboration between Superfly, Visit Denver and David Ehrlich of the Denver Theater District, who will serve as an executive producer of the event.

Superfly is best known for founding Bonnaroo outside Nashville and Outside Lands in San Francisco. The company has offices in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago, and members of the team from across the United States are excited to converge in Denver, says Superfly co-founder Rick Farman, who spent much of the past four years scouting out a location with Ehrlich, ultimately landing on the Overland Park Golf Course. The company describes the south Denver neighborhood, adjacent to the Platte River, as "Denver’s backyard."

Superfly had no shortage of critics last year, who raised concerns that its music festival would be an unsavory private use of public land, a noise nuisance, and a magnet for crime, drugs and traffic snarls. Some golfers were hesitant to give up the use of their public course during prime golf season, and others looked forward to promises from Superfly that the company would leave the course in better shape than it was found.

Proponents argued the festival would bring much needed energy to the sleepy neighborhood and give people something to do. They looked forward to seeing Overland Park Golf Course become a cultural hub and hoped the project would bring resources to the neighborhood. In the wake of the festival being approved by City Council, plans for a pedestrian bridge over Santa Fe Drive at Jewell are moving forward.

Opponents and supporters of the festival alike pointed to nearby Levitt Pavilion, the nonprofit amphitheater which opened last year, as an example of the impact a project like Grandoozy would have on the community. Some say Levitt made too much noise and others have relished the dozens of free shows the venue offers the community.

Levitt, which participated in community dialogue about the Superfly festival, has partnered with the company on the festival, says Levitt’s executive director Chris Zacher.

Richard Scharf, the CEO and president of Visit Denver, is eager to see the festival arrive, in part because it will bring in vacationers who will spend tax dollars in Denver and then leave – at least, most of them will.

"Visitors pay taxes we don’t have to pay," says Scharf, who positions himself as an advocate for smart growth and sees Grandoozy as just one more reason to boost Denver as a world-class tourist destination.

Rick Farman, Richard Scharf and Jonathan Mayers announce details about Superfly’s Denver music festival: Grandoozy.

"We’re innovative. We’re an innovative city," he says. "We’re a city made up of millennials. Probably none of us are from around here, but we came here and we just couldn’t leave."

While Farman says Superfly has no immediate plans to set up offices in Denver, he notes it isn’t a stretch to imagine his company’s employees would move here – either on their own or as part of a Superfly initiative; after all, many of them already vacation in Colorado.

The festival will join other major music events, including the Westword Music Showcase and the Underground Music Showcase, in bringing live music to the city.

Superfly boasts that Grandoozy reflects Colorado’s diverse cultures, and the festival’s producers forged relationships with respected arts champions like David Moke and Annie Geimer of the Denver Theater District early on in the exploratory process.

Farman says that Grandoozy is one of Superfly’s largest projects, and that the "psychographic" and cultural makeup of Denver reflect his company’s.

Scharf notes Superfly plans to run the festival for at least five years, and it’s in the company’s best interest for things to go smoothly: "But the proof is in the pudding."

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