Those familiar with the phrase "Keep Calm and Chive On" probably knew that the music festival Chive Fest was headed to City Park on Aug. 16. But that news came as a surprise to many residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, and they are anything but calm about it.
Chive Fest will bring eight bands to two stages throughout a 10-hour festival that has patrons shelling out $77 per ticket.
Organizers will block off a portion of the park for the estimated 7,500 people who will come out to see national acts such as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Cold War Kids and Talib Kweli. Chive Fest — started by the creators of thechive.com, a website for viral videos and photos — began this year and has had shows in Chicago and Seattle, with an upcoming date in Dallas.
Several residents in the area have concerns that they will lose access to parts of the park for up to four days — including set-up and tear-down time. They are also worried about trash the event might create, traffic, parking, alcohol consumption and that noise from live music could impact homeowners as well as animals at the Denver Zoo.
"You would think somewhere, someone, in some administration would realize we want it to be a quiet park in what is left of it," South City Park resident Tom Morris said.
Morris and others who are upset about the event say they have nothing personal against Chive Fest, just that the city will rent out a portion of City Park for an admission-based event.
Brandon Barrett , director of partnerships for Chive Live, said the group will be paying for additional portable restrooms, parking options and security as well as adhering to the Denver Revised Municipal Code regarding noise.
"We have been working closely with the the parks department to follow all procedures and to address any legitimate concerns made by residents," Barrett said.
Denver does have an admission-based event policy for its parks that dates to 2010.
"This event brings public awareness once again to the policy on allowing private business to close public property and require people to pay admission to an event that takes place on public property," said Dave Felice, a parks advocate and Park Hill resident.
Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation president Larry Ambrose said this event highlights the need for a festival park in Denver. The groups sent a letter to the mayor's office objecting to admission-based events in city parks. Ambrose clarified he is not anti-Chive Fest but said it would be better suited at a place like Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Chicago Chive Fest was held at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
"We are in favor of an admission-based festival park in which to hold these kinds of events. Our parks should not be venues for rock-and-roll concerts," Ambrose said.
Even though tickets are being sold and the event is being promoted, Denver Parks and Recreation spokesman Jeff Green said the permit for the event is not yet approved. However, residents hoping to move the festival shouldn't get their hopes up, as Green said it is unlikely the permit will be denied and the group has already obtained a liquor license.
"It's really how the applicant fills out an application, and as long as they meet their obligations," he said. Green added that the city receives 15 percent of the gross ticket sales.
City Park is or has been home to other large-scale events such as City Park Jazz on Sunday nights and the Cultivate Festival put on by Chipotle. Felice said the main difference is that those events don't charge admission and don't block off parts of the park.
However, Felice added that if the city is going to allow Chive Fest at City Park, it should make sure the noise ordinance is enforced, trash is picked up and no problems spill over into the areas bordering the park.
"If the city is going to allow this event to take place," he said, "the city could use this as an opportunity to show people it can be done properly."
When: July 30
Where: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Who: Chive Fest organizers along with Denver Parks and Recreation