Parker Country Festival ideal for ‘staycationers’

Posted 6/2/09

Chances are your dreams of a vacation to some far-off land have been dashed, but it doesn’t mean a summer without fun. For those planning a …

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Parker Country Festival ideal for ‘staycationers’


Chances are your dreams of a vacation to some far-off land have been dashed, but it doesn’t mean a summer without fun.

For those planning a “staycation,” a term popularized in recent months because economic conditions are causing families to stay home instead of going on a summer vacation, the Parker Country Festival stands to be the feature event of early season activities.

In fact, the 32nd annual festival — commonly referred to as Parker Days — could attract more than 100,000 people to the downtown district June 12-14, a mark that would set an attendance record.

An endless sea of lights lend a temporary glow to Parker’s night sky when the festival is in town, and the thrilled screams of children — and sometimes grown men — can be heard more than a mile away. The festivities magnify the inherent charm of downtown Parker, creating a regional destination every year during the second weekend in June. Carnival rides, delicious food, games, vendor booths and live entertainment draw residents from Elbert County, Castle Rock, Aurora and further.

While rambunctious siblings are out to conquer every ride at least twice, seniors seize the perfect opportunity to people-watch. The Parker Country Festival is especially popular among young, growing families.

Rob Clary, who plans on attending the festival with his wife and 5-year-old son, said the event consistently pairs an enjoyable family tradition with an incredibly lively atmosphere.

“It’s nice to see something like this in our hometown,” he said. “We don’t have anything like this where I’m from, unless you want to drive for hours.”

There is a noticeable buzz in the air leading up to the 2009 incarnation of Parker Days. Not only has the economy limited out-of-state travel plans, but the continuing rise in gas prices might keep consumers even closer to home this summer. Organizers took into account the reduction in disposal income during planning and left carnival ticket prices where they have remained for the last few years.

“This is one of those cost-effective ways to have fun,” said JJ Dedmon, board chairwoman of the Parker Chamber of Commerce, which has planned and coordinated the festival since its inception.

Clary, a Parker resident for more than 10 years, said his family will travel to the Western Slope in late July, but aside from that, “this is a big part of our summer plans.” The Parker Country Festival has become such an important staple for local families that they often schedule their travel plans around the event, Dedmon said.

The festival will include all of the usual components, but this year’s layout has been altered to fit a smaller footprint. Damage to the O’Brien Park baseball fields from past foot traffic caused organizers to shift some elements to the east. The main entertainment stage, as well as food vendors, will set up in a parking lot behind the Parker Station Professional Offices at East Mainstreet and Victorian Drive.

The 137-booth marketplace will occupy the O’Brien Park parking lot, and East Mainstreet and Victorian Drive will serve as the route for the mid-Saturday parade. East Mainstreet will also be the site of smaller entertainment shows, and a dirt lot north of O’Brien Park will accommodate the amusement rides. The intensive planning process involves the fire department and staff from the Town of Parker, including public works and police.

The festival would also not be possible without the efforts of volunteers, who log more than 1,000 hours over the weekend, Dedmon said.

The family stage has been revamped to become the cultural stage, where internationally-influenced bands will play mariachi and European folk music among other diverse sets.

“It really opens up the world to these kids through these acts,” said Mary McElligatt, event manager. “We’re going to have salsa, blues, a little bit of everything.”

Perhaps the event’s biggest benefit, especially as more festivals charge for admission, is the free entertainment. Several bands, including Sunday headliner and country-music star Randy Houser will play music throughout the day.

Other attractions include a NASCAR simulator and the Parker Idol contest. The public can get a jump on the carnival rides during a preview from 5 to 10 p.m. June 11.

To purchase advance discounted tickets or for more information, call 303-841-4268 or visit


“We don’t have anything like this where I’m from, unless you want to drive for hours.”

Rob Clary


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