Boulder Creek Fest is truly the start to summer along the Front Range. For more than 30 years, the event has delighted attendees with exceptional music lineups, fine art, carnival rides, food vendors and freewheeling rubber duck races. Now, the free three-day event that attracts more than 425,000 people yearly, has its very own signature bourbon — a single-blend batch with a taste and finish is as nuanced and special as “The Bubble” itself.
“When we heard that Boulder Creek Fest was looking for sponsorship in the spirits world, we had to jump on it,” said Ryan Negley, whiskey fellow at Vapor Distillery, the local company that crafted the unique liquor. “This is our backyard and we are so excited to focus more on our community and the events that happen here.”
While Kentucky is considered the mecca of brown liquor, Vapor Distillery is putting Colorado-born spirits on the map with its award-wining selection. Each handmade batch starts with Colorado Rocky Mountain water sourced from the Arapahoe Glacier. Then, top-quality botanicals and ingredients are added to guarantee amazing flavor and a smooth finish.
“Whiskey, and bourbon in particular, has been on a tear for the last 10 years or so, with the last few years being pretty nuts with the popularity of the category — and there aren’t any signs of it slowing down,” said Negley. “With our bourbon, we intentionally made a very universal whiskey. Our bourbon is fantastic on its own and great in classic cocktails, like an old fashioned.”
Vapor will have two tents set up where attendees can enjoy a free tasting of Boulder Creek Bourbon with flavor blends of bourbon lemonade and a beer shot.
“I didn’t have my hands on this batch, per se — this whiskey is three years old and I’ve been with the company less than a year, so I can’t take full claim for that,” said Negley. “When it came time to picking out the barrel, though, I wanted to make sure I was there to lead the tasting and explain the properties of the barrels we were choosing from. It’s a great whiskey, barrel No. 451.”
Those who fancy the samples can purchase a bottle of the limited-edition bourbon straight from Vapor’s tent — a remembrance of BCF 2019.
“Each and every day, when I go to work, or when someone asks what I do, I have the pleasure of saying, ‘I talk about whiskey.’ That, in and of itself, is highly rewarding,” said Negley. “The expressions on people’s faces, whiskey novices and experts alike, when I’m able to pour a taste for them is priceless and rewarding every time.”
Full cocktails featuring Boulder Creek Bourbon will be available for purchase at Vapor’s nearby Western Avenue tasting room throughout the duration of the festival.
“We are looking forward to seeing all the other local artisans and crafters and artists that this county harbors,” said Negley.
The Boulder Beer Bazaar, taking place at Creek Fest daily, will feature art, fashion trucks, beer, cider tastings and live DJs. “Shop and Sip” tickets are available for $30 to enjoy 15 samples of beer and cider throughout the market. A “Creekside For Kids” area will feature games and face painting.
“This event has been going on for so long, and is such an big part of what Boulder is, that we want to ensure that we continue the legacy of the event,” said organizer Ryan Slater of Team Player Productions, a Denver-based event production agency that was selected to take over as vendor by a six-person committee of city officials in 2018. “Our goal is to keep the traditions that have been so vital to the success of Boulder Creek Festival alive, while also updating it and giving it a fresh new look.”
Team Player Productions worked with local talent buyers to provide three stages with a wide selection of rotating acts that will be playing all weekend long.
“There will be the Bandshell Stage, which will include performances by Dead Phish Orchestra, Tierro with Bridget Law and Jyemo Club,” said Slater. “Our Festival Stage will include numerous local Boulder bands and a lot of great up-and-coming artists that everyone should check out. The Community Stage, located at the newly-developed Green in the Civic Area, will highlight all of the unique cultural dance and performance groups in the area. On Sunday, the Community Stage will be turned into the Teen Creek Stage Area and highlight all of the best young musicians that Boulder has to offer.”
While you may find a carnival treat, like a deep-fried funnel cake, among the vendors — BCF makes sure to showcase local eateries that keep it seasonal and healthy. Fare from West End Tavern, Centro, Cured Boulder and others will be offered. A section called “Wellness World” will feature outdoor classes from CorePower Yoga, Pure Barre and F45.
“We have tried to reach out to as many locals to get their feedback about the festival and really adapt what we are doing to what the community wants to see out of the weekend,” said Slater. “We have said it from the start, this is the community of Boulder’s event and their weekend to have fun, we are just here to make that happen.”
If you go
What: 32nd annual Boulder Creek FestWhen: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday- Sunday, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. MondayWhere: Along the Boulder Creek from 9th Street to 14th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe AvenueCost: freeMore info: bouldercreekfest.com