DENVER (CBS4)– Riot Fest is still bringing its music and entertainment venue to Colorado but this time they’re coming to Denver instead of Byers where the event was held last year.
Riot Fest will be held in the parking lot of Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 19-21.
The parking lot outside of the stadium will be transformed with fake grass, hay bails and whatever organizers can add to try to keep the feel of the festival the same.
Event organizers said all tickets sold for the Byers location will be honored at the stadium in Denver.
Refunds for those who had purchased camping spots will be issued.
Roxie Falco attended last year’s Riot Fest in Byers and has been planning her trip to this year’s fest for months. The news that there is a new venue has brought her relief.
“It’s one of those summers about concerts and without that one it was going to crush me,” said Falco. “It really has nothing to do with the venue for me. It’s all about having a good time and seeing the music.”
Riot Fest was originally scheduled for three days, Sept. 19-21, at May Farms in Arapahoe County and would have featured rock and punk bands like Slayer, Primus and Weezer.
Last year an estimated 15,000 ticket holders turned out for the concerts. This year that number was expected to grow as organizers requested more space. About 2,100 of those attendees would camp in a tent city which would nearly double the population of Byers.
The Arapahoe County Zoning Administrator notified Riot Fest Corp./Soda Jerk productions of the decision to deny their permit last Friday. They said the decision to deny the permit is based upon traffic impacts and public safety concerns that would “adversely impact surrounding property owners.”
Riot Fest organizers said even though the venue has been moved to Denver, they have officially filed an appeal with Arapahoe County.
Riot Fest organizers are also offering free tickets to all Byers residents who want to attend the festival.
The decision on whether to issue the permit happened after a public meeting on July 1 where more than 200 people attended to express their concerns with the music venue that also included carnival rides, food and merchant booths. A small number of those in attendance supported the event.
At that meeting, residents claim that last year’s festival had an adverse impact, including damaged property and businesses and brought an unwelcome element to town. They lined up to make their case at the podium in front of the commissioners.
This is a portion of the statement issued by Riot Mike regarding the Riot Fest & Sideshow in Denver:
Before I begin what will probably be a long-winded concerto of a statement, it has to be stated with deafening clarity that we wanted to make Byers, Colorado our home for Riot Fest for years to come. It’s a community we care about tremendously, just like Humboldt Park, in Chicago and just to pack up and watch the town disappear in our rear window is not an option.
In just over a year, we became part of the May Family and Gary, Stacie and their children became part of ours… the relationship is beyond normal kinship. And, I wish I wasn’t hunting for words in describing the bond between our two families – a perfectly succinct account for the fans. But, it’s hard enough writing about the Mays and the deeper I dig to find words, the harder it becomes to explain. There’s no defense mechanism for this one to hide or bury inside a wrinkle… I’m just tremendously sad.
At the same time, I am utterly incensed. Elementary ideological forces and manipulation veiled in contradictory legal jargon prevented us from coming back to May Farms this year. Simply, we were duped. Certain groups, residents and so forth did not want YOU or US in their town, and there is something morally dishonest and unforgiveable (sp) with their actions. Sean and I, along with our partners at Soda Jerk Presents, have been mum throughout this entire ordeal, but that will stop today. We have officially filed an appeal with Arapahoe County as of this morning and, needless to say, we are doing this because we are in the right. I cannot fathom that in 2014 certain social mores grounded in revulsion and irrationality, of course, by a limited howling few, can inflict such harm in a town or in a county. It’s disgusting and these people should feel ashamed. I will refrain from commenting any more on these matters, but, with complete conviction and certitude, more will come to light and all fans will know what precisely transpired.
To continue, we were essentially tossed out of Byers and after visiting several sites during our week here, we decided on Mile High. After much thought about the pros and cons about moving to the stadium versus other venues, the fact that the stadium is willing to allow us to transform their grounds and recreate Byers and May Farms swayed our decision. There are hundreds of agricultural towns across the U.S. who are struggling for survival, dismissed by their neighbors and political representatives at a state and federal level. There is no glossing this over… Byers is not an economically robust town. In parts, it’s certainly poor. And would Riot Fest be the end-all-be-all to save this town economically? Of course not. This takes multiple businesses and forward thinkers to take this kind of risk. We were up for that risk, because it’s evident we’d sell more tickets in Denver proper. But that’s not what Riot Fest is…. And it never will be. People thought we were crazy for choosing Humboldt Park in Chicago, but we knew we were right. Fast-forward three-years later, Humboldt is fast becoming its own economic engine … and we are proud to be a part of that rehabilitation. The thing is that we never wanted to change ideological mindsets in Byers – that’s not our job and no side will ever win. However, we whole-heartedly believed that we could have been a preamble for growth, and, in turn, help the town be heard for real and legitimate concerns: infrastructure.
Now, to the Riot fan base. I’m sorry for all of this and I thank you for standing alongside us. Sean and I, along with our partners at Soda Jerk Presents, will be forever grateful to all of you. And even after the curtain closes this year, I know I will look back on these last few weeks and smile because our Riot fans stood alongside us. The biggest apology to the fans goes to the people who were planning on or purchased camping. Obviously, camping refunds will be processed today, but, I know that isn’t enough and neither is an apology. You guys, above everyone, bought into Riot Fest and the experience we were providing in Colorado. I will find a way to make this up to you in the next few weeks. I promise.
With all of that said, I’d like to thank the residents and businesses of Byers, Strasburg and the surrounding areas. Your letters of support have not been overlooked. More importantly, I’d like to apologize to the youth of Byers. I know many of you are disappointed and outright angry, but please do not shun or mistreat anyone for the decision that was made. Community is based on divergent opinions and backgrounds and knowing that will guide you through any irrationality that may come your way in the future. When I was a teenager, music and lyrics guided me and helped me discover the world outside of Blasdell, New York.
The fact of the matter is that even in this day and age, ignorance resides and the words “Riot Fest” unfoundedly (sp) scares people. Punk rock still scares people. Intelligence and wit scares people. And we all know if we were named Good Ole Country Riot Fest, we would have never been in this situation.
Your grateful chum,