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Cherry Creek Arts Festival Turns 25

The highs and lows of Denver's premier outdoor art event.

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This Fourth of July weekend, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival celebrates 25 years of providing artists an avenue into your home. We mark the occasion by recounting the event’s best and worst years.

1191: This year was Denny Dent’s coming-out. The performance painter—who used six brushes (three in each mitt) to churn out portraits in less time than it takes to cook a frozen pizza—later appeared at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration party.

1998: Cherry Creek won the first of its five Gold Grand Pinnacle Awards from the International Festivals and Events Association, putting it on course to declare itself “America’s Most Honored Arts Festival.”

2000: With the organization drowning in $205,000 of debt, the board had to decide whether or not to end an event that couldn’t pay its bills. (Hint: They chose “not.”)

2001: There’s nothing like a microburst dumping six inches of water in just an hour to make you question the whole “outdoor festival” idea. The sudden deluge smashed glass artwork and washed cashboxes into storm drains.

2012: Anna Charney, only 18 at the time, applied under the surname Gordon. (Her father, Bill, founded the festival.) The Denver painter was accepted, becoming the youngest person ever to earn a spot in the Emerging Artists Program.

2015: Searching for this year’s highlight? Check out clean wooden benches and cabinets by rookie exhibitor Matthew Thaler of Denver or, if your tastes run more avant-garde, streamlined rocking chairs from Mancos’ Kevin DesPlanques.

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