Features, Print June 5, 2019

Keeping It Fresh: Friday Fest Kicks Off Greeley Outdoor Concert Season

by Dan England

You’ll see a bit more variety at this year’s Friday Fest series in downtown Greeley. You also won’t see many bands that you saw last year. But one thing is for sure: You’ll probably want to dance once they play.

“It has to be danceable,” said Alison Hamling, who organizes the event for the Downtown Development Authority. “It has to have that.”

Hamling doesn’t plan to make many changes to the event itself this year, and that’s OK, she said. The event averages 1,500 people in attendance every Friday night in the summer and sometimes will reach as many as 5,000 depending on the act, the event and, yes, the weather. Rain can cut into an outdoor crowd in a hurry.

Alison Hamling of The Downtown Development Authority with the first ever Go Cup in 2012 – Greeley’s first year allowing alcoholic beverages on 9th Street Plaza for events.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Hamling said, yet you will notice some changes in this year’s lineup starting Friday, June 7. That night is one of the biggest of the year: the Greeley Blues Jam kickoff when two dozen blues acts play throughout the night in nearly all of downtown Greeley’s bars, with Kara Grainger headlining the main stage outside.

With each upcoming Friday comes variety. There’s a country act this year called Doublewide, aside from Jared Daniels leading the Greeley Stampede kickoff (June 14), Bryce Merritt, a soul/pop rocker, and the Fat City Mardi Gras Band.

“We’ve found that if you narrow down the genre too much it doesn’t work,” Hamling said. “I look for music that’s the most widely pleasing.”

Photo by Peary Schroeder

There’s even the Manabi Salsa Band on August 9 to truly encourage you to get moving. Friday Fest has had salsa before, but this is a bit more crossover, Hamling said, as they cover a few pop songs in their set. When Hamling saw them perform for the first time, they played Michael Jackson and Adele.

“That’s what I look for,” Hamling said. “I do like to stick with cover tunes, and I like bands that stylize a lot of covers. That’s a lot of fun. People respond best to things they’re familiar with.”

There are a couple returning favorites as well. Dave Beegle and the Jurassicasters will play a mix of classic rock, the quality of which is outstanding, Hamling said. Hazel Miller comes back too, along with Funkiphino, who have played the Arts Picnic kickoff for the last half-dozen years and probably longer. The Moses Jones Band also return, although they didn’t play last year, again because Hamling doesn’t want to repeat things too often.

Photo by Peary Schroeder

That’s also why she’s offering some more family activity on 8th Street, one block over from most of the action, with games like cornhole. The hope is to spread the party across more of the downtown plaza, reminding attendees that fun, food and drink options are not as limited as they might think.

For the full line-up of this year’s Friday Fest concerts starting June 7, visit https://www.greeleydowntown.com/signature-events/friday-fest/