Featured Festival: Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado

… and now for something completely different.

Featured Festival Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado Photo Credit Eddie ClarkFeatured Festival Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado Photo Credit Eddie Clark

This photo & all following photos by Eddie Clark.

I’m always encouraging festival organizers to do something that sets their event apart. This is an example of a festival that’s doing just that.

Nitro Fest is one of Longmont’s most anticipated beer events, because it’s not just about the beer, although that’s a big component. This will be the fourth year of this event that’s one-part circus, one-part dance party, and one-part beer festival.  


First and foremost, Nitro Fest is all about beer. It’s the world’s only exclusively nitrogenized beer festival. This fact alone makes it unique. This year the festival will feature 100 nitro beers from all over the world with nitro beers from China to Ireland.

In addition to the beer, Nitro Fest is a feast for the eyes and the imagination with a Cirque de Soleil meets Steampunk ambiance. Circus acts will be conducted by Boulder Circus School, Lunar Fire, and Sven Jorgensen & the Fractal Tribe.

Featured Festival: Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado

Music will be provided by LOTUS, a “jamtronics” band from right here in Colorado. Their energetic electric sound will have festival-goers dancing all night long.

Festival-goers are encouraged to come in costume and if you need a little inspiration, Left Hand Brewing has created this Pinterest page to help you out.

Featured Festival: Nitro Fest 2017, Longmont, Colorado

Nitro Fest is produced by Left Hand Brewing High Five Events and proceeds benefit the Left Hand Brewing Foundation. To date, Left Hand Brewing has raised over $582,000 for non-profits.

Nitro Fest is going to be a special night and I hope to see you there!

Nitro Fest

Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Avenue (map here)

Longmont, Colorado

November 11, 2017

Tickets available at:

Roundtrip bus transportation from Denver available on the ticket information page.

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This Featured Festival was brought to you by First National Bank as part of their #WeGrowAsOne campaign.

“At First National Bank, we know that growth in the community starts with growth in the local economy. That’s why along with our commitment to the communities we serve, we strive to be the best bank possible for our business customers. Join us in supporting the community and the people behind the businesses in our community.”

Book Review: Burning Bright

 by Tracy Chevalier

Seldom do I await an author’s next book with much anticipation; however, for two years I have eagerly awaited Tracy Chevalier’s ninth novel, “Burning Bright.” Chevalier is most famous for writing “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” a novel featuring Dutch painter Vermeer. The book was made into a highly praised movie of the same name, starring Scarlett Johannsen and Colin Firth.

Chevalier has the ability to transform a story into a colorful painting, unfolding as a vivid image before the readers’ eyes; “Burning Bright” is no exception. The novel depicts eighteenth century London, focusing on several families who are neighbors of famed writer and artist and supporter of the French Revolution, William Blake.

I had the opportunity to attend a Tracy Chevalier reading and book-signing held in March 2007, at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Chevalier, who has lived in London for the past 20 years, has an open face and straightforward, approachable manner.

After reading excerpts from “Burning Bright” Chevalier took time to explain how she weaves fiction with real historic characters, creating a tapestry of folklore and authenticity. For instance, there is a story about Blake that has been passed down through the centuries. It involves Blake and his wife being discovered in their garden in a state of undress reading out loud to each other from “Paradise Lost.” Many historians claim the story is most likely made up, but Chevalier pointed out that most stories are, in part, true. In “Burning Bright” she uses the garden story but changes it to reflect how, perhaps, the story really got started and how it could have been embellished to create a more salacious tale.

Chevalier skillfully uses instances of Blake’s verses throughout the story as a stage on which to play out the story of her characters. Maggie is a fourteen year-old streetwise Londoner who befriends Jem, a country boy newly arrived to the city. Chevalier follows the lives of these two young people as they live and grow up in a world of harsh poverty. Bits of Blake’s poetry are used as metaphor and foreshadowing of Maggie and Jem’s relationship.

Other characters include the children’s families, William Blake and wife Kate and the gregarious Philip Astley. Many consider Philip Astley the father of the modern day circus and was a colorful and useful historical character for Chevalier to write into her story. It is a historical fact that Astley lived and operated his wild circus rehearsals near the home of William Blake. The addition of Astley to the story adds glamour to the otherwise rough lives of 18th century Londoners.

With the French revolution well underway Maggie and Jem sense a hint of change; though neither can articulate nor even comprehend the change, it is around them and inevitably in them. As the pages of the book and days of the year go by the children develop into a young adults, more certain of themselves in a still uncertain future. Maggie comes to terms with a secret and Jem learns to live life despite the death of his older brother. “Burning Bright” is not a whodunit or passionate tale of love, but rather a coming of age story. It is a story about getting to know one’s self in a crazy, unforgiving world; a story with a timeless theme.

 *Originally pulished in the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor in April 11, 2007.

Book Review: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara  Gruen  by Sara Gruen

This book was recommended to me over a year ago by Stephanie Stauder, friend and owner of Anthology Book Co. (   I finally got around to reading it this past weekend.   Yes, I did manage to read it in its entirety on Sunday afternoon.

The main character, Jacob Jankowski, is  male.   I point this out because I always find it interesting when a main character is the opposite gender of the author.   Personally, I feel it would be difficult to write a male main character and have never attempted to do it in any of my short stories.  

The book is written in a first-person narrative by Jacob who is 91, 92 or 93, he can’t remember.   He is confined to a nursing home with brittle bones and children who seem to have forgotten about his existence.   His wife has long since passed away.   One of the best lines of the book occurs in the first chapter on page 13.

“I used to think I preferred getting old to the alternative, but now I’m not sure.   Sometimes the monotony of bingo and sing-alongs and ancient dusty people parked in the hallway in wheelchairs makes me long for death.   Particularly when I remember that I’m one of the ancient dusty people, filed away away like some  worthless tchotchke.”

Jacob spends his days reminiscing about his life as a young man working as a vet for a traveling train circus in 1931.   The chapters flip back and forth between 1931 and his current state. The chapters involving the nursing home are funny as well as heart-wrenching.   I think Gruen’s best and most insightful writing occurs in these chapters.

The idea of writing a novel around a traveling train circus is unique and appealing.   However, this doesn’t mean Gruen’s book is lacking in cliches; Jacob’s parents die in a tragic accident (this is typical of many main characters throughout fiction) – there is a love triangle – the bad guys are really bad.   The story has all the ingredients of main stream fiction and/or a great screen play.   I wouldn’t be surprised if it is made into a movie.

Because the setting is based  mostly  on a 1931 traveling  train circus, Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, to be exact, the book is full of odd characters.   The main character, however, is actually a bit of a bore.   I never figured out why Marlena (his love interests) falls in love with him, other than the fact that he represents a “way out” of her current predicament.   Note:  I’m not giving anything away here, you know they’re going to fall in love – it’s a novel after all!   Jacob is neither funny nor clever.   As an old man he was much more endearing, but in the chapters where he is 23, I find him dull.  

Many of the supporting characters keep the book entertaining;  Kinko, the dwarf clown, Camel the  drunk, and Barbara the back tent stripper/prostitute.   While reading the book I continually wished to be introduced to some of the other performers mentioned, including the tattooed man, the bearded lady or the fat lady, but we were only introduced to a select few, which  was a disappointment.

My favorite characters were the animals, including Bobo the chimp and Rosie the Polish-speaking elephant.    Where the human characters seem to lack depth, the animals personalities come alive.

Overall the book is a very easy read and not very long.   Despite  the pitfalls, it is  a fun story that will appeal to many readers, including both men and women, young and old.   Gruen  conducted diligent research on the history of circuses and the reader  gets an insider look at circus life in the 1930’s.   The reader will also come away with insight on growing old.   Perhaps after reading  Water for Elephants, you may look at the old man on the street a little differently.   Everyone has a story, and the best stories are usually old and dusty.

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