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Live music, farmer’s markets, and local theater

Why do WE love Denver?

Hey City Casters,

To state the obvious: We really love Denver. And during this, a time of great love and gratitude, we are reflecting on all the unique things we cherish most about our beautiful city. So this week, we’ve got something special for you — each day leading up to Christmas Eve, a different City Cast team member will shine the spotlight on five things they think make Denver such an awesome place to live.

Today, City Cast Producer Xandra’s picks:

1. Lives shows being back(for now):This is really just my excuse to talk about how much I love the music venues on Colfax. When the pandemic hit, I went a year and a half without seeing a single in-person concert. So when I finally got to step foot back in the Ogden Theatre earlier this year, it felt like coming home. The Ogden, The Bluebird, The Fillmore — to me, it doesn’t matter who you’re seeing, it’s always going to be a special experience in those buildings because of the gorgeous architecture, the intimate feel, and the fact that there’s really no bad spot in the house. I mean, you can’t beat that gorgeous, dramatic chandelier that greets you when you walk into the main ballroom at The Fillmore, right?! Also, fun fact: did you know The Fillmore Auditorium used to be a vehicle manufacturing plant, and that Molly Brown herself bought one of the cars? So cool! 

2. Safe Outdoor Spaces:If you ask me, the way this city has handled our housing crisis over the decades has been a failure, and the number of Denverites who are unhoused just continues to grow. But one bright spot this year was when the city finally agreed to try a sanctioned camping site program. It’s just a start, and we have a long way to go, but these Safe Outdoor Spaces have already helped so many people. They’re a signal that, here in Denver, we believe housing is a human right. We talked about the Safe Outdoor Spaces a lot this year on the podcast, here’s one episode that covers the basics if you want to catch up. And if you want to learn more about Denver’s history with homelessness, I think this Westword piece by friend-of-the-show Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is an essential read. 

3. The City Park Farmer’s Market:I’ve always wanted to be a “farmer’s market person,” but before I lived downtown, it was a little hard to get into them. That changed this summer though with the pandemic easing up a bit and the City Park Farmer’s Market being right off Colfax in the parking lot of East High School. It became my favorite Saturday routine to show up, buy some breakfast from a food truck, and load up on local mushrooms, local Brazilian cheese bread, local kimchi, local everything! It’s a great little slice of Colorado right here in Denver — complete with indie hipster musicians performing acoustic covers in the middle of it all. Oh, and can I just say that East High School is hands-down one of my favorite pieces of architecture in this whole city? Gorgeous. 

4. SAME Café:SAME (So All May Eat) Café is Denver’s only pay-what-you-can restaurant, and one of only a few in the entire country. SAME Café has been helping the community combat food insecurity for more than 15 years. Every time I talk to owner Brad Reubendale about how things are going with the cafe, I’m filled with so much hope and gratitude that Denver has people like Brad. He and his staff are putting equity into action in a visible, tangible way. Everyone who walks into SAME Café, regardless of where they’re at in life, is going to be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. You can support SAME Café’s mission by volunteering or donating here. You can also hear from Brad himself in this episode of City Cast Denver from last month. 

5. Local theater:For all my fellow former theater kids out there, you should know that Denver has an amazing local theater community! And during these really difficult times, I think the arts have never been more important. We need an outlet to help us process this collective grief, and our theater troupes here in Denver have provided that space. If you’re interested in wading into the scene, I suggest keeping an eye on these theater companies: 

— Xandra McMahon, City Cast Denver Producer

🎧  LISTEN: It’s Casa Bonita Week at City Cast Denver! The Denver thing we just might be the most thankful for? Casa Bonita! The fate of our favorite Mexican eatertainment venue had us on the edge of our seats all year long. And we covered it on the City Cast Denver podcast… a lot. But it’s officially here to stay, its future looks bright, and to celebrate, we are revisiting our favorite Casa Bonita episodes of the year. Enjoy!
Today: The Casa Bonita Saga, Part 3: Change Nothing, Improve Everything