I first attended Bonnaroo in 2008. That music festival marked a lot of firsts for me—my first time driving cross-country with a group of girlfriends, my first camping fest, the first time I saw a crowd openly turn on Kanye West. One thing that didn’t make much of an impression? The food. I have a hazy memory of eating a transcendent vegan corn dog during a mediocre Widespread Panic set, but that’s about it.
Oh, how times have changed. Over the past decade, Superfly—the company behind Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, and the inaugural Grandoozy festival taking place in Denver on September 14-16—has made great strides towards improving its culinary programming. “Gone are the days where you can just have soggy chicken fingers and burgers. Everyone comes expecting a great culinary experience,” says Kerry Black, Superfly co-founder. “You’re seeing it everywhere now—food is a part of the experience.”
For proof, look no further than Grandoozy’s programming lineup: The Overland Park festival has nearly as much to offer foodies as it does for music fans. (And that’s saying something considering that Stevie Wonder, Florence & The Machine, and Kendrick Lamar are headliners.) Eight Denver culinarians—including Carrie Baird (Bar Dough), Justin Cucci (El Five, Root Down, etc.), Tommy Lee (Uncle, Hop Alley), and Jennifer Jasinski (Ultreia, Rioja, etc.)—helped curate the Devour Denver lineup, which consists of 30 food truck and restaurant options. (All food and drink is sold á la carte and not included in the ticket price.)
Biju’s Little Curry Shop owner Biju Thomas is thrilled to be supplying festival-goers with his spicy, Southern Indian fare. “This [Grandoozy] has the opportunity to to be one of the most important and attended festivals in America,” Thomas says, ”and we want to be a part of that.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper showcase of Denver’s dining scene without craft beer and spirits. Grandoozy incorporates both with Arts & Crafts and Flight School, respectively. The Arts & Crafts area features 18 breweries (locals like Ratio Beerworks, 4 Noses Brewing Company, and Golden Road Brewing are all on the bill) in combination with artists doing live painting and art exhibits. “You can grab a cold beer and check out amazing art,” says Black.
Black is particularly excited about the Flight School experience, which is new for a Superfly event. “We’re showcasing five different types of spirits—from Colorado whiskey to smoky spirits to amari to agaves. People can really test their palates and have some fun,” Black says. Superfly tapped Chad Michael George (the Way Back) to curate guided flights of five tastes in each spirit category, which are priced at $20.
Suffice it to say that Grandoozy festival-goers will certainly not be stuck with soggy chicken fingers and boring burgers—although, for the record, you’ll never catch me turning down a vegan corn dog on day four of any festival.
If you go: Grandoozy, September 14 to 16, Overland Park, 1801 S. Huron St. Purchase your tickets here.