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Chris Steinke and all of the annual ThorntonFest organizers are hoping 2017 was a fluke.
“It does scare me a little,” Steinke said. “The forecast for May 19 says 72 degrees, no rain. So we are looking good.”
Heavy rains earlier in May last year left the fields at Carpenter Park soggy — too soggy to let them set up for the city’s signature festival. So, for only the second time in the festival’s 22 year history, they cancelled.
“The actually day of the event, the weather wasn’t half bad,” Steinke said. “But the field wasn’t in good enough shape to let us set up. We need time to set up. It doesn’t happen often, but we don’t want to jinx it.”
ThorntonFest is a one-day celebration that offers the community an extensive list of venues and entertainment, a mix of live entertainment and shopping. Steinke said organizers are expecting more than 40,000 people.
“We may top that attendance at the Fourth of July, but it’s a different event,” he said. “For the Fourth of July, people come in and stay all day. With this, people come and go all day long.”
ThorntonFest runs from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. May 19 at the park, 108th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.
“It’s a family-friendly event and it really has something for everyone,” he said. “When I say that, I mean we have it all. We have a car show, we have pet-related things, we have more than 200 vendor booths, we have food and live bands and a kids corner with inflatables. And it’s all free.”
A Thornton’s Got Talent competition is new this year, with the all-ages contest replacing the high school-only Battle of the Bands competition at previous festivals.
The talent competition features performers ranging from 8- to 65-years-old in a wide array of talents from noon to 4 p.m.
“There are five different categories, vocal, instrumental, dance, variety and other,” Steinke said. “The other category could be a magician or a juggler. That’s exactly why we created that. If someone has a unique talent that doesn’t fit any other category, they can go there.”
In all, 20 acts will compete on the Carpenter Park Amphitheater all day throughout the festival, watched by a team of judges. Winners will get as cash prize as well as bragging rights: First place wins $1,250, second $875 and third $375.
Also new this year is the “Art<$100” show, a showcase of affordable local crafts and designs.
“We have 31 artists that have created affordably-priced art that they’ll be selling,” he said. “It’s all unique gifts.”
Most of the favorite venues from past years will be back.
The festival is hosting the Rocky Mountain Dockdogs competition in big air, extreme vertical and speed retrieval categories again this year.
Dogs older than six months are welcome to compete with their handlers age 7 or older. Registration for both contests is open until 8 a.m. and the competition begins at 9 a.m. Saturday and continues Sunday. Visit www.rockymountaindockdogs.com for more information.
Pet lovers can also check out Paw Fest. There will be an AniMall where they can buy special products and have their pets vaccinated for minimal costs. The pet clinic is open from 9 a.m. to noon and also from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. The cost is $10 for a rabies shot and $10 for the distemper vaccination, cash or check only. The services are provided by Huron Animal Hospital.
The Thornton Fire Department is hosting Healthy Town, offering healthy eating tips, life safety education, and they will give you active wellness advice as well.
The city is using shuttles to keep festival-goers moving beginning at 9:30 a.m. starting at STEM Launch School at 9450 N. Pecos St. The shuttles are scheduled to stop at several locations around the festival every 25 to 30 minutes. The last shuttle departs at 5:30 p.m.
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