Celebrate Fort Collins’ 150th birthday at Bohemian Nights

Boulder band Big Head Todd and the Monsters will kick off the 2014 Bohemian Nights as the opening-night headliner on Aug. 15. (Courtesy photo)
Boulder band Big Head Todd and the Monsters will kick off the 2014 Bohemian Nights as the opening-night headliner on Aug. 15. (Courtesy photo)
By James Garcia

Enthusiasm is running high in Fort Collins, which is enjoying its 150th year. And Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, which was created as a tribute to Fort Collins, is celebrating its 10th birthday, as well.

“This year is significant. NewWestFest was developed as a nod to Fort Collins’ birthday, and we’re 150 years old this year, which is pretty exciting,” said Peggy Lyle, event/entertainment director with Downtown Fort Collins Business Association.

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, scheduled for Aug. 15-17, blends new, emerging and established artists from the state with widely known national headliners for a three-day event in downtown Fort Collins.

“This year we’re super excited,” Lyles said. “We have eight stages of continuous and free entertainment, with more than 70 Colorado bands and more than 100 free performances over the weekend, with 250 specialty and food and beverage booths.”

The headliners next weekend are Boulder’s Big Head Todd and the Monsters at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and WAR at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. In addition to the six music stages, the festival features the Dance Showcase Stage and the Kids’ World Stage.

“We’ve got some fantastic bands coming in,” Lyles said. “We have other great favorites: DeVotchKa is coming back. We also have Elephant Revival. The Subdudes will be coming back, with their original lineup.”

Emerging singer-songwriter Katie Herzig will return to her hometown from Nashville to perform this year.

“I used to go (to NewWestFest) as someone who lived there,” Herzig said. “I think it’s really cool to get to go back and play a bigger stage. There’s always something that feels special about playing in the county you grew up in. I play all over the country, so it’s great to go home and perform for friends and family.”

Herzig and her band recently ended their tour in support of their latest release, Walk Through Walls, and will be performing a one-hour slot at 6:45 p.m. Saturday on the main stage before Benatar and Giraldo.

“My band was pretty excited about it,” Herzig said. “We considered doing a Pat Benatar cover on our last tour, but we didn’t end up doing them. We’re excited to see her, she’s great.”

Herzig said her set will cover the scope of her releases, ranging from intimate moments to epic moments “that will make you want to move, with lyrics that have depth.”

“I feel like it seems like there’s a lot of bands with a Colorado connection. To me, that speaks that they’re really going for a local feel to it. The caliber of the lineup is great, with the addition of national bands,” she said.

WAR returns for the 10th NewWestFest with the distinction of having headlined the inaugural festival in 2004. The band produced such hits as “Low Rider,” “The Cisco Kid” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”

Multiple main stage performances will be simulcast at the Library Park Stage. Festival attendees are encouraged to make use of the MAX bus transit service to get to and from the festival.

Lyle said the event requires thousands of volunteers, and organizers still seeking folks who wish to give back to the community while getting close to the action.

“It’s kind of a last hurrah of the summer,” she said.

As in previous years, the event will feature the use of festival bucks as a form of payment for vendors, such as food stands and alcoholic beverage purchases.

If you go

What: Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest music festival

When: 5-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17

Where: Downtown Fort Collins

Cost: Free

Info: bohemiannights.org

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