By Kyle Harris, Westword | RPM Events Group, which last month announced that it would be turning the Colorado Classic into a women’s-only bike race in 2019, just revealed another big change: The race-related Velorama music festival that has brought headliners like Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse to Denver will not return for a third year.
“We are focusing our resources and efforts on the Colorado Classic, which we are transforming into one of the top standalone women’s pro bicycle races in the world,” the company says in a statement to Westword.
“Velorama was created as a companion music and cycling festival to the Colorado Classic as part of RPM Events Group’s mission to return pro bicycle racing to Colorado in a sustainable way and with meaningful social impact while showcasing Colorado,” the company adds. “By pivoting the Colorado Classic to become a women’s standalone pro bicycle race, we can fulfill that mission without the need for Velorama.”
The festival, which took place in the RiNo neighborhood, was challenged by low attendance, long lines and shifting headliners. Despite those setbacks, the festival’s quality grew over the past two years.
“We are proud of having produced an innovative festival that combined a love of music with a passion for all things cycling and Colorado, while creating positive social impact through contributions to, and partnerships with, cycling and community non-profits,” the company writes. “We made some beautiful music and memories together.”
Velorama, which launched in 2017, is the second big music festival that’s been scrapped in 2019. The first, Grandoozy, a three-day extravaganza thrown by festival giant Superfly at the Overland Golf Course, brought the likes of Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar and Florence + the Machine to town. Earlier this month, organizers announced that after its inaugural edition in 2018, Grandoozy will be going on “hiatus” this year.
Music festivals have historically struggled in the Denver area. The Vertex Festival, which launched in 2016 in Buena Vista, was shut down before it turned two; the Mile High Music Festival debuted at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in 2009 and was canceled by 2011; and the Monolith Festival, a massive event at Red Rocks, lasted from 2007 to 2009.
Were Denver a lousy market for live music, all this would make sense. But it was just named Music City of the Year for 2019 by secondary ticket seller Vividseats.
Why do festivals struggle in such a thriving market? One commonly cited argument: Denver boasts one of the world’s greatest music venues, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, along with plenty of other outdoor venues like Fiddler’s Green, Hudson Gardens and the recently added Levitt Pavilion. There is no shortage of live music coming through town; we live in a year-round music festival.
As for RPM Events Group, narrowing its efforts to focus on a world-class women’s bike race is already paying off, the company
As for RPM Events Group, narrowing its efforts to focus on a world-class women’s bike race is already paying off, the company says.
“In fact, early and overwhelming support for the women’s race from sponsors, the cycling community and fans has been confirmation that this is the right thing to do,” RPM Events writes. “Going forward, we are committed to making the Colorado Classic not only the premier women’s pro bicycle race in North America, but a movement that empowers and inspires women of all ages and abilities to seek equality in sports, business and life.”
Author Kyle Harris quit making documentaries and started writing when he realized that he could tell hundreds of stories in the same amount of time it takes to make one movie. Now, hooked on the written word, he’s Westword’s Culture Editor and writes about music and the arts.